The Observation ~ De Aanschouwing ~ K. Schilder (De Kerstboek 1924) Luke 2: 15, 16

They are dark indeed, those beginnings of Christendom.

God lets the Heavenly light fall upon the fields, the fields of Ephrata. But under that light God places shepherds; a few, not more. And of the poorest, nothing better. Shepherds of the sort that know so well the way to the bleak poverty of the stall, and do not need a change of clothes in order to go, even if they go to greet a King, they greet him in a stall. Those who bring greetings will not say: we who perish greet Thee; and he who receives the greeting, will only later, only afterwards, be able to say to the people that he is King, who will tell His servants; be greeted, He who will die for you greets you. Perhaps in the end the shepherds will already have died when the child who now lies in the manger will finally say this. In any case they will be out of the picture; gone from the plan of the Gospel of salvation, which was written.

Yes, dark are the beginnings of Christendom. Rome and Ephrata, what do they have in common? Caesar in Rome, Divas Augustus he claims his name to be. Those who are going to die for him greet him. Must not the lesser of the world die for the greater? Let Bethlehem have the desire to change that law and the greater die for the lesser; ~ let the King greet the servant, for whom he gives His life. The world cannot see this yet and when they finally do see it they will never forgive the man of Bethlehem for overturning this ancient law.

These are the beginnings of Christianity; a stall, a manger, a child, a company of shepherds, a greeting, unprepared, a song, not composed, and that song unaccompanied by any harp. And darkness all around. Do you shepherds understand what you extol, do you know whom you greet? Oh, your soul could not bear it. It is too much, why, because it is so oppressively little. Souls suffer the most over what is simple, also when the amazement is born from sorrow of faith, which presses for reflection.

Yes, dark are these beginnings of Christendom.

Or, actually said, here is no Christendom yet.

Because, in the deepest sense it is not true, what someone said, when they meant (to say) that we make the personal impersonal when we called Christianity the religion of salvation. The man who saw it this way and said so (1), would make us believe, that early Christianity only took hold of the personal element in its worship with the adoration of the Savior; and also that only in this way could it do powerful things and capture the hearts.

Not as religion of salvation, but only as a cult of the Savior, Christianity has, according to this thinking, led souls into its soft imprisonment.

If the shepherds and their adoration by the manger had to be judged by this measure, then hopelessness would nowhere be greater than here.

Because although we hardly can form an idea of the shadowy thoughts in the minds of those shepherds, this much is sure: the personal, the form of the historical appearance of the promised Savior excites them more, and puts more questions in their heads and hearts, then the matter of the salvation to be obtained through Him.

Is (not) the mystery of salvation, the depth of the religion of salvation heard and learned and accepted in silence by the soul? But these shepherds just came from the great commotion, from the wonder of a mighty sound; they have heard singing by the multitude of the heavenly “host“.

Does (not) peace descend into the heart, which learns to believe its salvation? But these shepherds have breathed in the atmosphere of warriors: there was a multitude of the heavenly “host”. And who gives us the right to obscure the frightening, the transcendental, the sovereign appearance to them of angels, to cover up this description of heavenly martial music behind soft phrases of “silent night, holy night”? The night that sent a “host” to the shepherds to proclaim the holiness of Him who draws a line straight through the history of the ages. A line from great king David to the place where sheep are now grazing was not so “silent” .

Is it true that at the hour of the birth of peace in the soul’s realization of salvation the actual becomes eternal? Time turns to eternity and the fact, while not consumed, still remains hidden from the soul’s eye within Him Who made it? But then the shepherds still stand far from that hour; until now their attention has fallen upon the actual. And as for making eternal of what is actual, the carefree angels have left this up to the shepherds. The heavenly message puts its emphasis on the outward; and already the first words take away from the shepherds the opportunity to experience the fact of Christmas in the depth of soul or to lock it up deep within for their souls consideration. Because, says the first angelic messenger, it is not “for your souls”, but salvation, the great joy, has now come for “all the people“. Many listeners in our century would have taken ill of this heavenly recipient-messenger, because a message like this undoes the blessed introspection of the listener in himself and sends him from the depth of individuality to the wide scope of “all the people”. Here reflection is placed before intuition, reason before meditation; oversight before insight, going out to the masses before repentance unto the heart. That is the actual in sobriety, which would ruin our Christmas mood. Yet the shepherds must; there is also this “host”.

Again there is that coming out of the fact: “For there is born to you this day… a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord.” It is not said here that THE Savior is born, who with full certainty, already from before creation is chosen and known through God. But “a savior is born”, and he is portrayed among the list of many saviors which the ages have brought forth. And if the one born is highlighted on the level of temporal things when he is seen among the people and powers here below, then it would first be said of Him that the eternal counsel of God is shielding His temporal appearance. Thus Christ is not portrayed as Jesus, but Jesus preached as Christ. They (the shepherds) may perhaps have understood something of Christ, but about Jesus nothing. The eternal does not become actual, but the actual is made eternal. And so the message continues. The child is born, in such a place, at such a time. You can recognize it in ‘this‘, and can prove it ‘there‘, and because of ‘that‘… indeed, what? That the Word of God has become flesh? No! That the words of angels don’t lie! And this shall be a sign; “You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger”.

Do you see? Not the inward hidden thought of the “religion of salvation”, but the outward visible appearance of a person from among the Saviors. The shepherds drift toward the stall and later huddle around the manger.

Now I repeat; if it was true that the adoration of the Savior and not the religion of salvation was the push behind early Christianity, then Christianity’s cause would appear somber indeed to and for the shepherds. What remains afterwards then of the night of Bethlehem? What conquest does God make by exposing the eyes of the shepherds to the poverty of the Son born from Him? Did something more occur perhaps then only shepherds coming to see and to learn silence before God? Certainly, they had spoken to the people, they had praised God before those who would hear of His glory out of the mouths of sheep herders without office. But they did not conquer one heart. And that makes small, makes dumb before God. Certainly the wise men come too; and Anna as well, and Simeon no less. But all these were, without seeing, without reflection, busy with the lawsuit that lay between God and Israel and which excited them about the Messiah much longer and with more intensity then the shepherds. For the rest, the child that now was born must have had to become a man, and have spoken words, so many that the world could not have contained the books in which they were written (John 21: 25), and Jerusalem must be disturbed because of Him, not by His birth but by His death, and the spirit of Pentecost must blow within the temple of Israel’s people, before hearts could be brought into the circle of the “young Christendom”. Hearts so strong and so full of faith that they could embolden the tongues of the crusaders of the new religion.

Who knows how many stood before Gabbatha a few decades later, how many, who had heard the story of those shepherds, and that memorable night, from the shepherd’s mouths and yet called out: “his blood be upon us and our children”?

But now what is the will of God with these beginnings of Christianity, with these first rustlings of the new day?

What is God’s will with these shepherds?

What God wills, what He wills along with many other things, is to show to the ages that the holy days, which He prepares as feast days for us, do not find their essence in what passes, but in the eternal, imperishable itself, even though the eternal merges with the temporal.

This is what God wills. That he would show in the Christmas night that the greatest triumph of Christianity, also already in its very first steps towards the child of Bethlehem, does not lie in the Savior, but in the realization of salvation.

First of all He does it by the story, nothing more. The story of the shepherds and how they had gone to the crib and the stall.

For the distressing thing about the story is none other than that it is no more than a story; that it is but a fragment; that it appears to have enough in itself.

Do you believe in the unity of divine history? Do you believe that everything God does (before) are transitions to the works He does after? Where then is the sequel of this tale? Is it not completely finished with the telling, when we see the shepherds turn and leave and evaluate? Because they evaluate after they had seen, but not because they had seen. The praise which comes after the facts is according to the law of faith which went before the facts. Did they say: let us go and see if the word which was spoken, happened? No: plainly and simply they girded their robes and said to each other; let us go and see the word that has happened. They went, not investigators but visitors. So their praise was also fitting, not only because they had to praise the fact of beholding itself; for whoever praises, also praises for. But to whom could the shepherds say; come, go with us, and do as we do…..; to whom, unless only an outward observation was the essence of their joy?

Ah, to Egypt God has called His son. When He turned him back again he sent him to Nazareth. For the students of the shepherds, if they were still there, it signified a question placed there by the God of the shepherds who wanted an apostolate of shepherds. Yet, Who still limited it to a telling without showing. Why does God make visible to only a few what He later hides from the desires of many? Why does He send shepherds, who must evaluate that heaven gave them, the preachers, (reason) to appreciate being instructed by seeing, yet withholding it from those who later hear it from them.

Golgotha and the hall of Pentecost could answer that question later. Because God’s message, which proclaims peace for all, resounds from there to those who will not see but will still have believed. But by such means also this story, with-nothing-added, this write up of the pilgrimage of the shepherds, is defended against the understandable accusation of it being merely fragmentary. The Bible does not write fragments, least of all on feast days, which urge and force and press up to the success of the energies of God, which stream out to the world in the facts of salvation. Would you, Christian, would you hold on to the great truth of salvation on your dim Christmases with their soft narrative style? Then wrestle with those shepherds and their adoration continuously until you have redirected that one story to THE great Story, which became Holy History.

Is it only about adhering to the outward veneration of the Savior here? Truly, the story of the shepherds is fragment, a fraction, a sketch without follow up and no history. Throw out that fragment, a sketch book is no gospel; a thousand beautiful histories do not make the one Holy History which spans all times and eternities with the highest unity. But before you would snip the tale of the shepherds out of your Bible in order to work everything away piece by piece afterwards you might consider this question; whether God would not to say to you that the follow up of the history of the shepherds is truly there, but then only in what can not be seen. If that is the reality then the heart of the shepherd’s adoration is also about what can not be seen. Then the essence of this pilgrimage to Bethlehem lies more in experiencing salvation than in amazement over the Savior, who must yet receive His name and prove the right to that name by conquering it from God.

If you have seen the story this way, then it has preserved you. It has now taught you that the shepherds are not clustered around the crib and stall, around Joseph and Mary and the child for nothing. For this Child has given himself to the world through the eternal Spirit. Through the Eternal Spirit Joseph has accepted the mystery and Mary has strengthened her heart to preserve everything she saw and heard. And by that Eternal Spirit the shepherds also believed in the great Joy which lay there in that great Stumbling block and great Folly. So their’s were voices of praise to God because of that Child, that preserves the flesh by the Spirit, that conquers time by eternity, that puts meaning in words only by the Word, which became flesh.

And through this, their faith and their being made competent, the shepherds still had their sequel on this night, which was very holy, but absolutely not silent. So they received a place in that gospel and could only on this condition avoid the offensive word ‘fragmentary’ and which does not cause its readers to hang onto the outward, but lifts up their hearts into heaven.

Consider further that the shepherds themselves are children of their time, sons of their people, students of their priests, and also in this way feel the miracle of God, who instructs them more to experiencing salvation then to glorification of the Savior on this Christmas night.

What have the teachers of Israel preached to the multitude throughout the centuries? What have they seen and believed about the appearance of the Messiah?

Oh, they had said that God would burden the Messiah with commandments and with sorrows as with millstones…. The suffering Messiah you say? Still, they also boasted that God had given the people of Israel many commandments and statutes, so that they also could earn much. So, according to the best teachers of Israel, ~ the best because at least they still thought of a suffering Messiah, ~ the hand which strikes the Messiah is the same as the one which caresses Israel. The Messiah does have part in the privileges of Israel, for He too can earn from God; but Israel has no part in the blows against the Messiah. They only share with Him the honorable labor of earning from God. These people could never write as Paul does about the duty of souls, to fulfill, “what is lacking (remains, Dutch, S.V.) in the afflictions of Christ” (Col. 1: 24). This way the students of the Rabbis could hold their heads up with their Messiah…. What could the Messiah plant if His people didn’t plow for Him?….

But the shepherds, falling to their knees, have greeted the child and worshipped Him. Do you still ask what God wants with those shepherds? He has freed them from every rabbi in one indivisible moment; and He did it in a stall.

Oh yes, Israel’s teachers have learned, that in the end the Messiah will sit in the gate to bind his wounds……. The suffering Messiah you say? Quiet, that gate would be the gate of Rome. What would the Messiah do, if his people did not grant Him an administrative order, which would open the opportunity to push himself up into the first ranks of warriors on the killing fields of world history?……. But the shepherds did not think of Rome, but of a salvation they have seen and believed from afar, which began its work in a place, in a town, where soon their sheep must pass along the narrow street. Do you still ask what God wants with these shepherds? He did not ask them, if the gates of Rome would give themselves over as prisoner to a Hero whose deadly wound would be healed, but, ask rather whether the gates of hell would overpower the walls behind which two or three would gather in the name of this Child.

Yes, ask yourself, what it was in the days of the shepherds that fascinated the students of the rabbi, of the aspirants of the priesthood (1) in Israel. Is it not always the visible appearance? For the Magi of the East the stars would have to adorn the hemisphere, which God arches over the head of the Messiah. The golden scepter and diadem would be ornaments for the world assailers from the West. Scepters and diadems which people timidly present to the emperors of the world. Because Julius Caesar, Caesar Augustus, Claudius, Vespasian, Titus, Trajan, Hadrian and other Roman emperors have carried the honorary title of “world-savior”, among many, earlier than Jesus Christ. (2) And the Jews were situated between East and West. Unfortunately, the geographical situation explains the spiritual; because the Jewish expectation of the Messiah is related to that of the East and the West. Certainly the middle wall of partition which separated Jews and barbarians, that wall I say, Christ had finally lawfully broken down. But the Jews themselves had already undermined it, although they kept shoring it to keep it upright, the fools. They have mined away the foundation of the wall for to the Jews the Messiah would also be a hero, who shone in everything outwardly, only for the eye. The expectations of the sons of Abraham, the performers of David’s harp music, these gatekeepers of the graves of the prophets, these epigones of Zerubabel, have sunk far from the spiritual founding principles, so that a man like Flavius Josephus can be called orthodox and still they can call the Roman Emperor Vespasian World- Savior. (3). Let it be true then that the Jews have incorporated the idea of suffering into their image of the Messiah. But as long as the wounds of the Messiah are no different then the scars of a general, then the prologue of Isaiah’s chapter (53) about the suffering “servant of the Lord” takes on this epilogue (also for the Jews): “who has believed our report?”

But in Bethlehem’s night the apology begins for the true epilogue which Isaiah wrote in his song about the man of sorrows. “He shall see His seed”. Do you still ask what God wants with those shepherds? Well, they believed that their Savior, who was truly the Lord-Messiah, was born today. They believed it when there was no dazzle of gold, when no war chant rang out, when no arrows of the enemy defiantly whistled overhead to wound the war lord. They had believed it in a stall, with a child, wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger, who could not respond to any adoration. God has freed them from all rabbis; the liberation of prophecy begins its victory in a stall, beyond the portico even of the most orthodox school of the prophets among the Jewish people. In that night the prophets were silent; but when the shepherds knelt and believed, prophecy again rose from its grave. God had done this and it is wonderful in our eyes. They have believed salvation despite the appearance of our Savior, destitute and bare. And blessed is he who is not offended with this Savior.

In the third place also pay attention to these shepherds in the stall in so far as they are subjects of the world empire of that time: the realm of Caesar Augustus.

Who are they, who during the time of the Roman Empire had their names etched forever by the narrators of that century? A catalogue of the great men from early Christianity gives an answer to that question. In that list of classical names we do find a place for Antonius, but not John the Baptist, Apollonius of Tyana, but not Jesus of Nazareth, Flavius Josephus, but not Luke the Evangelist, the robber baron Bulla Felix, but not Saul of Tarsus (4). What was left out of the catalogue was ranked under “the plebs”. It is said that the nameless children of the “plebs” (rank and file trans) of those Imperial days did not help shape the spirit of antiquity, and so it may be. But the victory over that antique spirit still comes via the simple souls, to whom Paul later sends his greetings in his missionary letters and to whom the Apostle brings aid in the work of world-mission for the Crucified Nazarene, to whom Luke dedicates his gospel and John his letters. And God has elected those “plebs” to great deeds. Well, where did this rush upon the antique spirit begin? In the stall, with the shepherds! For see, they kneel because they believe the Spirit and see the Spirit who does not caress the flesh nor has yet crucified it. Do you know what (it is that) God has (set) before these “plebs”? it will overcome the world. Because:

Wisdom is not reputed here:

Here no peerage, state or splendor is prized:

Heaven has made them small,

Everyone is of heavenly descent.

Who are by meekness reborn. (5)

Yes, the shepherds of Bethlehem are set by God as witnesses of a clarity, that is prophetic for the following generations against the antique spirit of the days of the great Roman Empire. Already in the year 48 BC, in an official writing from the council of Ephesus, the dictator, Caesar, was called the god, preserver of all human life. In the first year of Caesar Augustus a subscription oath calls the emperor; “God from God”. An inscription of March 17, 24 BC gives him the same title of honor which three and a half centuries later the Council of Nicaea will assign to the Christ of God. In 9 BC the birthday of Caesar Augustus simply became the birthday of the God. (8)

Plucked from the air is the legend from the new testament apocryphal writings (6) that has Joseph searching for a midwife for Mary in a night that is so silent with honor for the newborn King of the Jews, that the firmament is silenced, and the birds do not stir, and the people unmoved in the position they had just taken and the sheep of the pasture remain standing or lying in deadly silence, wherever they were. But another element not plucked from the air which is a further elaboration of the legend brought forward by Selma Lagerlof (7), when she saw a man crying in that quiet night: a man who risked breaking the silence. That man, who, when even the Tiber didn’t murmur, left his palace with a few faithful, was Caesar Augustus in Rome. He went to the capital to see if he could build a temple for the Divine Augustus, for Augustus, the god. Selma Lagerlof also says he did not dare carryout the proposed veneration, that the awe of the birth of the world God, far away in Bethlehem made him rigid with fear.

But history speaks otherwise. (8)

The Caesar cult was already known when the shepherds learned about the message from the angels; and the Caesar of Rome, whose edict “that all the world be registered”, drove Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, was glorified as god. John of Patmos would later draw on this worship of the flaunting, flashing man of Rome for his depiction of the Anti-Christ. It would be vanity for the Nazarene paupers, to call the Lamb that was slain, their God. The idolatry was already reality and became a command.

Do you still ask what God wills with these darklings, these nameless shepherds? Well, in simplicity they knelt in a stall, and so there the protest was born, against the sickness, the sin, from which heathenism would perish, by which the world would succumb. The sin of the deification of man. Of the worship of the wonder man, who is before the eye and goes before the face of the world. The adoration of the emperor, the worship service of the Anti-Christ. The culture of heathendom becomes top heavy in his palaces. But the new worship, which came up by the shepherds in a stall, which God bespoke when He revealed His Son in the flesh: true God and true man. The shepherds? They pray, …….and their crown is not a common one. (9)

No, the crown on the head of those who kneel here is not “common”; it is not like that of the others. The light that is from above has come upon these shadowy souls; and the wisdom accepted here is better than rubies. A kingdom is proclaimed here that does not come with outward show, the sickness of the age is overcome by life, eternal. It is confessed in Bethlehem today, Rome lets man climb up to God, yet God has come down to man in a manger. Pray oh shepherds, kneel and pray; you will understand that you have experienced in simplicity what Paul later wrote to the Christians, who were in Rome; “do not say in your heart: who will ascend to heaven? For that is “to bring Christ down! The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (Rom 10). For this confession is present in the root of the shepherd’s souls, and is directed against the spirit of their age. This confession is alive in the prayers of sheep herders and in apostolic words and in every soul, also now, who kneel with the shepherds and say: I will rediscover the times beside Bethlehem…..(10).

And now, at the last, what would God with these shepherds?

To set them finally, alone, opposite their Savior and Lord and consider the Jewish way and also consider the Roman way, bring them in pure isolation with their Savior, so that you to know the isolation. Have you ever seen anything more beautiful?

Now we return to our starting point. God has made it very difficult for these disciples of simplicity, these hearers of but one message . He had brought them the proclamation of the most inner secrets of souls who fear (Ps. 25: 14) in an externally pictured form. He had brought them up to a mystical experience of salvation, by exposing them to a sensory perception of the Savior who wanted them to sing praises to an Offence that was a stall and a Foolishness that was a manger.

Then they went their way, they grazed their sheep, did not go along to Egypt, but passed away. No one in the centuries that followed knows their graves.

So that had been their only task, the predestination of their lives: they were chosen to tell us that the observation of the Savior is less and the realization of salvation is more. Therefore they had to kneel and move on and make way for others, to prove in this their obedience, that there is feasting with God, where not Jesus Christ, but God is the end of all things.

Christmas preached the commandments through the Gospel, because the Gospel is pointing the world to what only can preserve it: the commandment, the Will of God.

And the great commandment is: ~ You shall have no other gods before My face.

And again: ~ You shall not make a carved image, nor any likeness.

Jesus Christ also may not be our idol. For in the deepest sense it is not about Jesus. It is to the last only about God. Christ the means, God the goal. We must be freed of Christmas as fast as possible. Because the day must come when Christ gives the kingdom over to the Father, so that God will be all in all. Nothing could be hastier then the feasts, and the facts upon these feasts. The feasts would be rudely changed if the facts did not press for, were not urgent for eternity. And Christ were a curse if He did not bring us to God, and did not atone for all things toward God, also those in heaven. Christ is God from God; but the shepherds have seen him wretched, as Servant of the Lord. Whoever loves the Servant, so that he forgets the Lord of the Servant, has not understood His mission, and has done violence to His soul.

Therefore no one should say, as we heard in the beginning, that Christianity is most powerful when it finds the worship of the Savior to be more than the fact of salvation. Savior and salvation, ~ they are not to be separated. The worship of the Savior is itself a part of salvation. And whoever does not climb up to the Lord of Lords, to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, with the servant Child, when they sing so long and so profoundly of that silent and holy night, has gone directly against the purpose of Christmas with ungodly thinking. They have committed idolatry with the child in the manger.

And our time has made itself guilty of that idolatry again. God is so very far away, and the child was right before the eyes.

But whoever loves their life, should listen to the message of the shepherds. It has come heavily upon them to be elected of God, predestined to see; to come and see and to be perplexed. Yet God, who does not give account to shepherds, even if they stopped angels, God has made the story of what their eyes observed to be one of the most hasty events, so that a child of this age also might see that the continuation of His Kingdom lies in what is hidden deep in the soul, in the deep secrets of the heart. So the returning shepherds, now become prophets; say to you, that the Christmas night is more beautiful then all days, but that all nights, and all days, call for that great Day, in which God is all; the Day in which the work of mediation will be complete, in which the original things will be restored in perfection.

Oh admirers of the shepherds, why do you not find your Christmas song more profound, why do you find Christmas preaching the most glorious? Because you do not make haste, because you tend toward idolatry of the servant of God. Contemplate the child, but rejoice with trembling. God gives His glory to no other. Not to the Mediator either.

Sing the song of angels. But sing with trembling. For it reaches to the highest heavens. Peace on earth…. that sounds profound, that is the present, is the gift of an immanent God. But; glory in the highest heavens…. Wonderful, here is the advent thought, here is the message of a transcendent God.

If we would share in the joy, we must again be able to bear the sorrow of the shepherds. Only those who have born the temptation of Christmas, the temptation of the charisma of the Mediator, can, with the angels, take up the doxology of the Sender.

…..No other Gods before Me, is also Christmas proclamation.

And a second commandment like it: … You shall not make a graven image.

Christ is God. He is also Image of God.

Every image which God makes is good. Because the images that we make are a departure from the Idea, which is according to the reality of God. Our images are not only defective, but also impure.

We cannot say of Christ that he is an impure image of God. God has made that image: no eye has seen, no ear heard, nor any heart conceived, what God has prepared for us in Christ, in Self revelation. And, as far as this is concerned, oh shepherds, gaze with your eyes at the Savior of the world, kiss His hands and His feet. Because all revelation of God is pure; it speaks the truth, even in stalls. But all God’s revelation is not adequate. Although the image God makes has nothing in common with the images we make, which speak impurely, yet it is subject to the law that it does not speak completely, that it can not express everything that God conceals in His thoughts.

We may therefore love the Image, kneel alongside the shepherds and long to open our eyes to the dawn which will let Him be visibly seen in His beauty.

But we may not be satisfied with that Image. We must raise that Image up to heaven in our hearts. We must go on, go further.

And the shepherds say that we can. God dared risk upon them that Image in its most mystifying form because the Spirit is the interpreter (exegete) of Him, Who proclaimed God to us. He who ventured that with the shepherds also ventures it with you. Do not oppose it. Also press on past the manger toward the cross, to the throne, to the hall of Pentecost, to the second coming, to faith, regeneration and repentance. According to the eye the story of the shepherds is fragmentary. That is its weakness for children, but its power for the mature, through grace.

Celebrate your Christmas. But pray about this fragment so that there is room in your meditation for reflecting on the unity of your spiritual comprehension of the divine thoughts. When the soul is first drawn via the many toward the oneness of God’s wonders, only then can the body again see Christ according to the flesh. The shepherds are finally freed from the fragmentary in the day of eternity. Until then God will hide His Son to Himself so that we may not be made perfect without them (the shepherds).

Celebrate your feast and put up with sorrows, and labor to bring forth the fruit of your thoughts, the sacrifice of the lips, which confess His name, in, and by, and also beyond the hiding of that name from Christmas. Because you are more than shepherds. They are driven to the stall in twilight. But you go up to the temple in the full light of the revelation of God. You have been told: see I come quickly.

What does God want with these shepherds?

Ask what He wants with you.

Then you will also know the shepherd’s destiny, for the communion of saints reaches over the centuries.

Do not love the image more than the Real, and True God. Therefore the devil is the liar from the beginning, for he has less concern for the eye of the soul, and more for the eye of the body. Does he not come to the soul camouflaged as an angel of light? On his part, therefore, world history will end with the “signs and wonders of the Antichrist”.

But God is the True One. Therefore He goes from the eye’s contemplation to the contemplation of the soul. Therefore He allows Christ to be gainsaid from the days of Herod until those of the Antichrist. But all the sham signs and wonders of the Antichrist put together will be unable to undermine the ranks of those who follow the shepherds in order to kneel in humility. For the greatest “wonder” God preserves for Himself. That greatest wonder is the regeneration of souls who, like the shepherd‘s, found their great Shepherd in bondage, clothbound in crib and grave. And they will all come to that observation, all, whom God, via the realization of being saved, brought back from the offense of contemplating such a Savior.

When salvation brought them to life and worship, to confession, to self-recognition and birth in the kingdom of God in this new creation, then God will be thanked by those to whom was preached, via the frail story of the shepherds, that the power of Sinai, reaching over Bethlehem, would call out against all idolatry and image worship, and which called Christ into the world so that He will reconcile all things to God.

Those who read the story of the shepherds in this way, greet their King and their God above in the highest heavens.

And must gather themselves with the shepherds and climb to God, far from the stall, surely, not wanting to remain behind. He also says at Christmas:

Oh true power of mine,

I must make repentance;

In my heart I hear

Such a friendly voice:

That I would upwards climb

Above all earthly things

To stand in His will.

To no longer sojourn here,

If we would be jubilant

before the lofty throne,

We must upwards go,

For this we are created;

The creator who has made us

Will be our eternal reward.

Who so speaks will loose much coziness and intimacy. But in the depths of his soul God will return double for their labor.

(1) According to Schurer, Gesch. d. Jud. Volkes (History of the Jewish People) 4th Volume II 582, 649, in parts.

(2) Deissmann 311.

(3) W. Weber, Josephus and Vespasian, Stuttgart, 1921, S. 40 -. 88; see Deismann 312, 7.

(4) Deissmann, a. w. 247/8

(5) Joost van den Vondel

(6) Proto gospel of James, second century AD

(7) The wonders of the Antichrist.

(8) Deissmann, 292, 293

(9) Inserted in this line is a poem by Dirk van Herxen (died 1457)

(10) Inserted a poem by J.G.R. Acquoy ~ Ic wil mitten herdekens tiden.