Setting Up the Creche – Shepherds

Written for Advent Worship for the UCC in Wallace, ID

Participants continue to gather in the creche. The shepherds were pleased to be invited; that doesn’t happen often for them. Of course, they have obligations and responsibilities that tie them down and keep them at home, but it’s not just that. They’re simply not the kind of folks that end up on invitation lists. Socially awkward, hardly stimulating dinner companions, rarely clean under their fingernails or within reach of anything presentable to wear.

You may know that I grew up on a working dairy farm, but are less likely to know that that farm was located in a town with a pristine spring fed lake. Over the generations, that lake has managed to attract and assemble a prestigious assortment of summer people. Not tourists who drive through on their way to somewhere else, but families that have acquired a camp and come for a month, or maybe the summer. Corporate executives and seminary professors, artists, poets and writers (including Wallace Stegner), foreign diplomats, a UN Ambassador and even the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (William Rehnquist). Good people, kind people, generous people, but not people who invited us to dinner. For six summers, through high school and the first half of college, I worked at the local store, running the cash register, cashing their checks, bagging their groceries, pumping their gas. And then we went our separate ways. Them to play golf, sail in the regatta, have cocktails on the porch; me to go after the cows, help pick up the hay, get supper started.

When God’s in charge of the guest list, the shepherds just may end up at the top (sheep welcome to come too), followed closely by the ones who make the beds and wash the floors, work in the mines and empty bed pans, line up for groceries outside the food bank and linger on corners with a sign that asks, Help. We’re more than welcome too. Just know that the last and least will be greeted first, the down and out given seats closest to the fire and ushered to their place at the head of the buffet line.


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    • Cathy Barker on December 6, 2020 at 9:26 am

    I love this, Alice. I confess my discomfort with hanging around with the shepherds, but I know I can get over it given opportunity and time and grace. How can we make that happen?

    • Mark Boyd on December 6, 2020 at 10:13 am

    Those that serve will be served

    • Anonymous on December 7, 2020 at 6:13 am

    Wonderful, Alice!

    • Carol H-M on December 7, 2020 at 7:56 am

    Beautiful, friend. Again. Just beautiful.
    I have swum in that lovely lake!
    Thanks for bringing Advent alive in ever new ways.

  1. Thank you all for your responses. And Cathy, thank you for your honesty. I share your discomfort and search for making it otherwise.

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