Monday, December 17, 2012

Singing Gloria in excelsis at the Shepherds' Fields

The Shepherds' field is traditionally regarded as the place where angels appeared to the shepherds. There are a few sites claiming to be the original site.

LK 2:8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

 14 "Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." (Luke 2:8-15)

The Roman Catholics and the Orthodox Church each has their own site. This is the Roman Catholic site.

The Sanctuary, designed by Barluzzi, stands on a rock overlooking the ruins. It has a dodecagonal shape with five apses having an inclined plane, recalling the structure of a field tent like the one used by the shepherds at that time. The light that penetrates the concrete and glass dome, illuminating the interior calls to mind the divine light that appeared to the shepherds. (source: CustodiaTerrae Santae)

The only light in the interior comes from skylights in the dome symbolizing the relationship between earth and sky.

the angel's announcement to the startled shepherds

the shepherds paying homage to the baby Jesus

the shepherds celebrating the birth of the Messiah

The church has amazing acoustics. We sang Gloria in excelsis Deo led by Pastor Elaine Goh.

It is fascinating to reflect that the King of kings, God incarnate is borne by a poor peasant girl, betrothed to a poor peasant boy, delivered in a hole in the ground which is the home of cows and goats. And the first people to know of his birth and come to see him are the scums of the earth! Dirty, filthy, smelly, uncouth shepherds. In Jewish society, shepherds are thieves, liars and the lowest of the low. It looks like God deliberately chose poverty and depravity to be the environment for the human Jesus to grow up in. It's like, God is giving himself the severest test of all: growing up in a difficult environment. Yet in spite of all these adversity and handicaps, "[And] Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men" (Luke 2:52). Sometimes, good seeds will grow even in bad soil. May this be a lesson to us who obsessed over our children's growth.


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