"And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, 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, good will toward men.
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb." - Luke 2: 7-21
Can you imagine if you were one of the shepherds that night and called off?
"(Cough, cough) Hi. God? (Cough, cough). I am sick. I won't be there to tend to the flock. Yeah, sorry."
Of course, you did so before your scheduled two days off.
So, 72 hours later, you head back to the field only to hear the other shepherds talking about that night.
"And, where were you?"
"I called off."
"You don't call off. You crawl in."
"I was sick."
"Yeah, right. Anyway, your loss. This angel appeared and told us about Christ the Lord. So, off we went to Bethlehem to see this babe lying in a manger. Dude, you missed it."
"What's the big deal? I got three days off in a row. Nothing is better than that."
"No. You don't get it. We became messengers for God. We made known abroad the saying with was told to us. People we told wondered if we were telling the truth. And, when we returned we knew we told the truth to everyone. We praised God for what he had done for us. And, all because we were keeping watch over our flock by night."
"Really, I was sick."
"You stick to your story and we'll stick to ours."
The shepherds were abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
There were where they were supposed to be.
They didn't (cough, cough) call off.
They didn't (cough, cough) miss practice because they didn't want to go.
They didn't (cough, cough) slough off their duties and let someone else take over.
They were abiding in the field.
The shepherds were continuing without change; enduring; steadfast. They had an abiding faith.
Synonyms for abiding are: ageless, continuing, dateless, enduring, eternal, everlasting, immortal, imperishable, lasting, ongoing, perennial, perpetual, timeless, undying.
Do you have any idea how many blessings you miss when you called off of work, missed a practice or are late to a practice because you just didn't feel like getting up?
Do you have any idea how you missed being a blessing to someone because of those same reasons?
Do you have any idea the coach was going to insert you into the starting lineup that day in practice - the same practice you blew off?
We make way too many excuses for not doing things.
You don't want to go to work because you feel bad, don't go. But, what are you teaching others?
Do you think Cal Ripken Jr. felt 100 percent each morning he woke up during his streak that lasted 2,632 consecutive games played?
He played in every game from May 30, 1982 to Sept. 19, 1998.
Ripken played in over 8,000 consecutive innings from June 5, 1982 to Sept. 14, 1987.
Ripken made the decision not to play on Sept. 20, 1998, the Orioles' last home game of the season.
Brett Favre made 297 straight starts as an NFL quarterback.
You think he was 100 percent each morning he woke up on a game day?
He started every game from Sept. 27, 1992 to Dec. 5, 2010, and that includes 24 more playoff games for a streak of 321 games.
Peyton Manning is next in line with 206 straight regular-season starts and an addition 18 in the playoffs.
Ron Jaworski held the old mark at 116 straight starts in the regular season.
That's "abiding in the field."
Synonyms: celerity, fastness, fleetness, speed, hurry, quickness, rapidity, rapidness, speediness, swiftness, velocity.
Antonyms: slowness, sluggishness.
Haste: rapidity of motion, swiftness; rash or headlong action: precipitateness; undue eagerness to act.
Haste back in the day meant if my dad told me to do something, I had about 1.8 seconds to move to get the job done.
In today's world, it's more like 1.8 minutes for a kid to actually get off their keyster to do something.
Haste back in the day meant when I heard my dad whistle and I was not on my way home with swiftness, some mother would come out of the house with quickness and tell me that I best hurry home before my butt rapidly became more and more sore.
When coaches move from drill to drill, they are looking to see which kids do so with haste and to see which kids do so with waste.
They are also looking to see how a kid performs in a drill, with fleetness or with sluggishness.
What the coach calls your name, how fast do you get off the bench?
The shepherds "came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger."
Imagine if they were in today's world and go to when they got to it.
Imagine the blessings they would have missed?
But, they didn't.
They did as was told.
They were faithful in what was said to them by "the angel of the Lord."
(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)