Shepherds? I was hoping that my assigned text would include sheep and shepherds. And, lo and behold, it does!
The angels announce the birth of the child in Bethlehem to shepherds. Of all people. Not the elders, not the priests, not the merchants, but to shepherds and their sheep. What an unconventional choice those angels made. As crucial as herding was in that ancient culture, shepherds were outside the structures of their society—more time with the sheep and each other than with their communities. Vital, yet marginal and, at times, a bit suspect and scurrilous in reputation.
How wondrous and unexpected are God’s ways, in this case, in the choice of messengers. Not only did the shepherds immediately hasten to Bethlehem to take in this “good news,” they went and told others. So, no matter how insignificant or marginalized the messengers may be, the message of wonder is all that matters. We, too, need to take in the message as we “glorify and praise God” for all we have been told. Let’s take this waiting time of Advent to do just that.
I imagine that the sheep followed their shepherds to that humble place in Bethlehem. We should to the same.