There are Shepherds Everywhere


December, 2016


And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” —Luke 2:8-12

The story speaks new to us every year no matter how often or how differently we hear it. Our spirits seem attune to something greater; we listen with expectation and anticipation. This year the shepherds keep standing out to me and I think it’s because of what I’ve seen here at the Y. There are shepherds everywhere at the YMCA!

  • Lifeguards in the pool teaching young children how to swim. Not only for fun (though they think it is all joy, after they’ve conquered their fear), but to literally equip them with life-saving skills in case they ever need it.
  • I met Frank on the sidewalk downtown. He was walking in from the bus stop with a cane and a bit of a limp, and he told me his story.  Frank chose to work out 3 days a week and take a year to heal from a hip problem rather than surgery with significant risk of complications. There is personal trainer somewhere inside the YMCA that is “shepherding” Frank in his healing journey.
  • In the short time I’ve been here I am aware of at least two situations where “shepherds” from our YMCA team performed CPR and gave someone a chance at life.
  • Mary Lee, age 90, and one of our amazing volunteers, who showed up to eat pizza and celebrate Christmas at YCAP. Mary Lee believes in the potential of every child at YCAP and gives her time and resources to make sure they know someone cares.
  • School Age Services teams who are shepherding kids through their mornings and afternoons, making sure they have the basics in life: food, friendship, and fellowship with people who care.
  • Y-Play teams watching over the little ones while their moms and dads take care of their health.
  • Small group facilitators shepherding people through a change process that helps them improve their relationships, finances and even parenting skills!

This list is a bit like Santa’s….it goes on and on and on. Too many to count, and yet, we are counting. We are counting in miracles, like the one shared with the shepherds over 2000 years ago. It’s a funny thing about the shepherds: they were the least likely people expected to hear big news. But God chose them to hear the good news first and they were listening. They were the ones working. They were the ones watching and listening. They are the ones who believed enough to go and see.  Shepherds watching over the flocks…a bit like you are watching over all the people who are being cared for in some way through the YMCAs across Middle Tennessee. May God bless you and bless your work.

Prayer:  Lord, please bless the many shepherds who work throughout the YMCA of Middle Tennessee. From the person mentoring kids after school, the hospitality greeter at the welcome desk, the instructor in the pool, the person checking off Kronos, the leader of a group X session, to our CEO, Dan, and a host of others: Please give them all patience, give them protection, give them peace. Thank you for watching over these shepherds while they are taking such good care of others. We love you LORD, we need you and we trust you. Thank you for helping us help your people heal in spirt, mind and body!  Amen.

Rev. Vona Wilson
YMCA of Middle Tennessee