Keep Christ in Christmas 

With the busyness of the Christmas season, how do we keep Christ in Christmas? Several GDA Upper Grade students gathered recently to celebrate the gift of Jesus’ birth through a simple and solemn event called a “Shepherd’s Dinner.” Inspired by Sally Clarkson, Matt and Megan Dove opened their home to host this event and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.  


History of the Shepherd’s Role 

In ancient times shepherds played a vital role in society. Many notable Biblical figures had the occupation of a shepherd (Abraham, Moses, David, etc.). Shepherds or shepherding is mentioned in the Bible around 200 times. God is also described in the Psalms as our Good Shepherd. And in the Christmas story, the shepherds were the first to hear the news of Christ’s birth.  


Luke 2: 8-16 

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 cloths 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. 


Inspired by Sally Clarkson 

Sally Clarkson’s blog sheds some insight into how to host a shepherd’s dinner event in your home. To honor the shepherd’s watching over their flocks at night, dinner should be enjoyed by candlelight. The meal should be simple. An example meal consists of soup, fruit, cheese, nuts, and bread. The Dove family shepherd’s meal contained potato soup and homemade cinnamon rolls, but you could customize the meal to fit your family’s needs. The goal is to keep the meal uncomplicated, the environment solemn, and by candlelight.  


The Order of Events  

When arriving all the lights should be out with the glow of the lights from the Christmas tree, garland, and candles turned on through the evening. When attendees arrive the expectation of the event should be explained from the beginning. Attendees eat together, pray together, listen to the Christmas story from the Gospels, and play or sing traditional songs focused on Jesus and Christmas. Megan Dove explained, “the goal is to suck all the commercialization out of Christmas and focus on Jesus.  


Host Your Own Shepherd’s Dinner  

The Dove family helped host the shepherd’s dinner event as a large gathering at church, with their local small group, or as a more intimate meal for their family of four. We invite you to consider hosting your own shepherd’s dinner event and reminding those around you of the true purpose behind the celebration of Christmas; that is, the celebration of the birth of Christ Jesus that ultimately led to his death on the cross, our forgiveness of sins, and the hope of reconciliation and redemption of a right relationship with God. May you be blessed this Christmas season!