Lessons & Carols 6 – Luke 2:6-18; “Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow”

Posted by on Dec 20, 2020 in Uncategorized | No Comments

The Sixth Lesson: Luke 2:8-16

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth 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 heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.

Pam Weis plays “Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow” arr. Jack W. Jones

Oh, there’s a star in the East on Christmas morn
Rise up, shepherd, and follow
It will lead you to the place where the saviour’s born
Rise up shepherd, and follow

Leave your ewes and leave your rams
Rise up shepherd, and follow
Leave your sheep and leave your lambs
Rise up, shepherd, and follow

Follow, follow
Rise up, shepherd, and follow
Follow the star to Bethlehem
Rise up, shepherd, and follow
Come on now
Follow

Now, if you take good heed to the angel’s word
Rise up, shepherd, and follow
You’ll forget your flock, forget your herd
Rise up, shepherd, and follow

You gotta leave your ewes and leave the lambs
Rise up shepherd, and follow
You gotta leave your sheep and leave your rams
Rise up, shepherd, and follow

Follow, follow
Rise up, shepherd, and follow
Follow…

Today’s carol is a new one to me, but is quickly becoming a favorite. This beautiful song with its tune that makes you want to get up and dance, originates from the plantations of Georgia as enslaved people sang their faith and taught it to future generations. The song at its core is just as much, if not more, an invitation to follow Christ still today than a celebration of the shepherd’s journey long ago. The song implores us to heed the angels’ words, leave the things that tie us down, and follow the One for whom the light shines. 

As is true with many gospel songs, many who sing it make it their own. They change the tempo a bit, hold a note a little longer or improvise their own words as the spirit speaks to them as they sing. One such rendition of this song adds a verse that says:

Oh, that star’s still shining this Christmas day.
Rise, O sinner, and follow!
With an eye of faith you can see its ray.
Rise, O sinner, and follow!
It’ll light your way through the fields of frost.
While it leads through the stable to the shining cross.
Rise, O sinner, and follow!

This verse reminds me that sometimes, I feel like the shepherd, faithfully following while other times I feel more like a sinner trying to find my way. The truth is, God is still calling each of us, sinners and shepherds alike, to follow. Is there something holding you back from following Christ completely?

Last week, the devotion that our children read with their families encouraged them to think about the moment when the angels first appeared to the shepherds. A great light appeared out of a vast darkness and took them by surprise. The children were encouraged to acknowledge the fear that was likely present in the shepherds’ minds and hearts. They were also encouraged to explore their own fears and confront them. So, as you listen to our carol this morning I encourage you to confront your fears and worries, rise up and follow Christ, perhaps with a little pep in your step as it’s hard to listen to this carol and not dance.

-April Alston