A Christmas Message
By Chris Amos
Many, many years ago, nearly 2000 in fact, a group of men had gathered beneath a starlit sky. They were working the nightshift and protecting the vulnerable against the attacks and assaults of the predators that were common in that part of the world. These were rough men. These were tough men. These were men that much of society looked down on as being excessive… Excessive in their walk, excessive in their talk, just plain excessive. And why shouldn’t they be? They spent their lives dealing with thieves, robbers, and other predators of both the two and four legged variety. Life for these men was not easy, it was not kind, and it was not even civil at times. While the well-to-dos lived in their fancy houses and gated communities, these men called the unrelenting, unforgiving and unpredictable great outdoors their home. These men were very much a part of the fabric of society and yet were often viewed as no more than a necessary evil. A group of rebel rousers that were easily taken for granted. Few dreamt of becoming one and yet all understood the need to have these men present.
Who am I describing? Law Enforcement Officers… Not exactly. No, I am describing the shepherds, during the time of Jesus Christ’s birth. The shepherd of Jesus’ day was not the white collar, ivy league college graduate, looking to rule the world – or at least a fortune 500 company. No, they were as blue collar as blue collar could get. I suspect some were shepherds because their fathers were and their father’s fathers were. I suspect most where shepherds because that was all they felt qualified to do. They didn’t like thieves, they didn’t think much of robbers, and they had no use for those who would take from the weak what they themselves did not have, but wanted.
In many, many ways, these men were very much like our modern day law enforcement officer. Like the shepherds so too are LEOs taken for granted, looked down upon by the elites, and seen as a necessary evil by many insulated from the dangers and threats of the real world by money, position, zip code, education, or any number of other factors. Like the shepherds, LEOs are to be out of sight until everything hits the fan and then they are to arrive on the scene just long enough to restore peace and order and then back into the shadows; the LEO isn’t to return until the next crisis.
What am I trying to say my friends? Simply this, nearly 2000 years ago the only begotten Son of God the Father, Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary in a hewn out hole or cave intended to provide shelter for farm animals. Jesus was born and placed in a literal feeding trough. Friends, understand this is not the Hallmark Christmas card setting we have been led to believe. The conditions under which Jesus was born were hard, very, very, hard. I am quite sure this place was one that reeked of animal feces. It was cold. It was damp. It was suited for, for, for… the birth of a shepherd! And so it was – and how fitting, for Jesus would become not only our Great Shepherd but so too, would He become the sinless, spotless Lamb of God slain for the sins of the world! My sins, and your sins friend.
To my LEO Brothers and Sisters, I want you to understand this Christmas Season that on the night of God’s birth as a babe, for you see Jesus was 100% man and 100% God, the elites slept. The governors, presidents, and kings slept. The college professors and news anchors slept. The radio show hosts and newspaper editors slept. The fortune 500 CEOs and COOs slept. Hey, even the firemen were fast asleep! But there was one group of men, and only one, that received a heavenly invitation to welcome the Christ Child into the world on that cold, dark night. You guessed it, the Shepherds!
“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.” Luke 2:8-16
Friend, this Holiday season while you are working your district or sector while other families are home sleeping or celebrating, depending on the time of day, know this, God sees you, He loves you, and desires to give you the greatest of gifts man or woman could ever receive. The gift of eternal life, purchased for you by Jesus Christ on Calvary’s cross. But like any gift, it is worthless unless received. The world rushes to open and receive gifts wrapped in paper, ribbons and bows but ignores this greatest of gifts wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. Friend, accept the gift of eternal life. How? The Bible tells us simply, “By grace you are saved through faith. Not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9. In other words, accept Jesus and His work on the cross, paying the penalty for your sins, by faith. Trust in Him and what He has already done and stop trusting yourself. Accept Him, embrace Him, rest in Him, bow the knee to Him and you will, like the Shepherds of old, rejoice, for you have seen the King of kings and Lord of lords!
Chris Amos is a retired officer and former spokesperson for the Norfolk Virginia Police Department. He is currently the pastor at Christ Fellowship Church in Norfolk. He is married for 30 years and is the proud father of three children, two of whom are police officers. He serves as the volunteer Chaplain for Norfolk Police Dept. and Norfolk Sheriff’s Office.