I’ve been pondering, reading and then re-reading Luke 2:8-20, wondering about these shepherds in a dark field at night tending their flock. When all of a sudden an angel appeared and spoke, proclaiming the birth of Jesus. I don’t know about you, but for me, that would scare me enough to turn my hair white. To be going about my day, or night in this case, and boom – an angel is standing in front of me and speaking to me – just, woah.
To top off the moment of pure fright, like a cherry on top of a crazy whimsical cupcake, a whole slew of angels appeared and began singing praises to God. If you doubted your sanity with the first angel, what would you do when a whole flock of ’em appeared and began singing? I’d like to think I would have sprung from fear to delighted awe. I can vividly imagine how those shepherds standing around in the dark taking care of their sheep felt when all of this took place.
The angel told them how and where to find the baby, the newborn King. They found Him in a town overfull to the point of no room at the inn. That is super cool if you think about the intricacies of it all, every last piece of the grand story.
I think, when we read the Christmas story, we tend to gloss over the wonder, the delight, the reasoning and meaning behind a story that is so familiar. We float over the feelings, the people living this story. These shepherds were people, just like us. They felt it – the fear, the joy, the wonder!
While searching, I began to pour over articles about the historical context of the shepherds. Did you know that the shepherds would have been of the lower caste of society? I honestly didn’t know this, I’d never looked at or thought about it. But they were. It has been said, based on Old Testament prophecy and historical context that these particular shepherds could have been the ones caring for the sheep that were used for sacrifice in the temple.
Many times I’ve glossed over the story, until it became just that – the story. No less true, but a story that I’ve heard and read and sung about and been in plays about. I forgot about the people. How often do we forget about the people in the Bible? We read and re-read their stories glossing over the fact they were real people, just like us.
When I read about the societal standing of the shepherds, the sheep they may have been tending, the dark of night they received world changing news, the choir of angels singing praises to God, it all wrapped around my heart and opened my eyes. The gloss went away and I was left with how good God really is.
That He would reveal His Son to a low caste of society choosing them to be the first ones to lay eyes upon Jesus, outside of His parents, is just, so. . .God. He always takes the least of these, the black sheep as it were and selects the purposeful pieces of the story to be lived out by ordinary souls seeking a good good God.
See you tomorrow for another foray into the Christmas story. . .xo
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 that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, 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 heaven, and on earth peace to those 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.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.