Thursday, 24 December 2015

Follow that Shepherd by Anusha Atukorala

I've been re-reading the Christmas narrative and studying it over the last few weeks. What a compelling story! Can you imagine the thrill in the heavenly realms as God and the angels prepared for the birth of the Son of God? Picture the stage being set. Lights out. A flickering lamp in a stable. The innkeeper’s wife scurries around with hot water and swaddling clothes. Joseph paces outside, along the cobbled path, his heart pounding. A donkey brays, loud and harsh in the still night air. Stars come out one by one; winds murmur in the trees. Mary writhes in agony, sweat pouring down her sweet face. And then … and then … we hear a wail, a baby’s cry. In an instant, God has entered our world.

Joseph gently wipes the sweat off Mary’s face. She smiles at him, then gazes at her infant, mesmerised. He is the most beautiful baby in the world. His name is Jesus. A short distance away, shepherds are keeping watch over their sheep. A bright light dazzles. Abel jumps out of his skin … almost. Noah’s mouth opens wide but no sound comes out. Adam’s hand clutches his long beard. He is staring wide-eyed at the scene unfolding before them. Angels—a mighty host of of them are singing in the heavenly realms. The shepherds move back in fear. But an angel speaks. “Don’t be afraid.” His voice is clear, low, melodious. “For I bring you good news of great joy which shall be for all people. Unto you is born this day a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord”.

Wouldn’t you like to have been there?
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending an Elton John concert. It was a fabulous night and the music was full, rich and intoxicating. But an hour before the event, as we stood outside, waiting for the doors of the Entertainment Centre to be opened, three people ranted at us, placards in hand, belting out a gospel message. But oh! It annoyed me immensely and made my blood boil. I wanted to march up to them and ask them to shut up. I prayed for the listeners that they would find God in spite of what was being shared. It shocked me that Christians could sound as they did. A good message but mouthed in the worst possible manner. Enough to put a saint off!

As a writer, I too need to be careful about how I come across to my readers. Those defenders of the gospel drew people away from God rather than towards Him. Did they glorify God? Hardly. When I read Luke’s gospel last week, I found some helpful pointers for my writing journey (chapter 2:15-20) from what happened that Christmas night.
1. The shepherds were faithful to their calling, doing what they should be doing, so the angels knew where to locate them. What about me? Am I doing today what He asked of me? Am I in the right place so I can be found by Him?
2. They listened to the Angels’ message. Am I hearing God about my writing?
3. They obeyed. They took the angel’s word seriously. Have I obeyed Him this year in my writing journey? What about the year ahead? What does he require of me?
4. They spread the word. I found it interesting that the angels didn’t ask them to share the good news. All they were told to do was to go and find baby Jesus, the Saviour of the world. But when they did, they couldn’t stop themselves from sharing. It was an overflow of the joy of meeting Jesus. Have I met with Jesus lately? Am I consumed with the desire to use my writing and my life to share God’s truth in the genre He’s called me to write?
5. All who heard the shepherds were amazed. Have people been smitten by God through my writing? Have they discovered who He is because of what I write?
6. The shepherds returned glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. Is praise a big part of my life? Do I glorify God through my life and through my writing?
7. And then there was Mary. She pondered over all she heard and treasured it in her heart. How much do I ponder over the God’s truths? Do I treasure it? How often do I marvel over the Good News? Does it change my life?
The shepherds were unschooled men. But that didn’t prevent them sharing the Good News far and wide. We read in Luke’s gospel that they discovered the stable scene just as it was told them. And that is our starting point too. The faithfulness of God. He who calls us can be wholly trusted. This Christmas let’s follow the shepherds in how they responded to God’s call. And don’t forget we have a Good Shepherd who has laid down his life for us. Let us follow Him. He came that the world may be drawn back to God.

Warmest greetings to you all for a very Blessed Christmas!

Anusha Atukorala has two places she calls home, the beautiful island of Sri Lanka, and this very special land Down Under. She loves writing in any form, be it creative writing, composing songs and poetry, or simply emailing family and friends. She also enjoys reading, walking, singing, enjoying the beauty of God’s creation, making friends and sharing the love of Jesus. Her first book, 'Enjoying the Journey' is a collection of 75 little stories of God's reality in every day life. Do drop in at her website to say G’day. She’ll be very happy to see you. Dancing in the Rain


  1. Thanks, Anusha, for your timely thoughts and insights from the Christmas story--and for your great photos too. Have a wonderful Christmas--and I'm glad you enjoyed the Elton John concert!

  2. Thanks Jo-Anne. Thanks for taking the time on this busy Christmas eve to check it out! Warm greetings right back for a blessed Christmas Jo-Anne. And every joy in 2016 filled with lots of writing successes. :)

  3. Thank you Anusha for another loving, gentle encouragement. You do paint our wonderful Lord and Saviour in a glorious light, reflected powerfully and purposefully in your words. May you bask in Jesus' blessings as we celebrate his birthday tomorrow.

    1. Thanks so much dear Mazzy for taking the time to read and respond despite the busyness of the day. I will surely bask in those blessings - thank you for those special wishes. Sending them right back to you Mazzy. Have a blessed and joyful Christmas. XOX

  4. Thanks Anusha for your reflections on that first Christmas - and on the joyful witness of the shepherds. May our own witness be as winsome.

  5. Thanks Jenny. Yes, may be hear God's call for 2016 and obey Him as He leads us into many exciting 'places' to share the good news of great joy in whatever manner we can with all the world! :)

  6. Thanks Anusha, it's an opportune time to reflect on our faithfulness to our call as writers, and disciples. Susanne x

    1. Thanks Susan. It sure is. God's been leading me on an interesting journey the past 2 years and hooray - He seems to be leading me back more into my writing in the coming year. It's been great to hear Him and know His heart. Love new beginnings! :)