So when a specific sermon has been floating around in my heart and head for thirty plus years I think it is worth revisiting.
One 1980s Christmas Eve Pastor Keith* shared his perspective on why the shepherds, folks of little if any importance in the culture, financial world or halls of education in the times of Jesus ministry where chosen to hear the heralding of The News. He believed it was very simple: (1) Unlike Herod (political leader) and the Sadducees and Pharisees (religious leaders from the left and the right), they had no agenda that they needed to protect when they realized the Messiah had stepped onto the world stage. (2) Unlike the business leaders, they were not wholly focused on protecting their bottom line. (3) Unlike the academics, they did not stop to debate and argue the way to respond. (4) The shepherds were able and willing to focus completely on The News and respond wholly and immediately.
Oh, Lord of Lord, Prince of Peace, Savior of the World, help me to be more like the shepherds, undistracted when You place opportunities before me, unafraid to respond with a whole heart. Lord, I'd like to think if a whole company of angels appeared before me I would pay attention, but the sad truth is that amazing things happen around me everyday that I do not fully appreciate, embrace or respond to as I might. Thank you that you keep pouring amazing things into my life and so persistently nudge me to pay better attention and respond more passionately. AMEN
Luke 8-20 as translated in the Complete Jewish Bible:
In the countryside nearby were some shepherds spending the night in the fields, guarding their flocks, when an angel of Adonai appeared to them, and the Sh’khinah of Adonai shone around them. They were terrified; but the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, because I am here announcing to you Good News that will bring great joy to all the people. This very day, in the town of David, there was born for you a Deliverer who is the Messiah, the Lord. Here is how you will know: you will find a baby wrapped in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.” Suddenly, along with the angel was a vast army from heaven praising God:
“In the highest heaven, glory to God!
And on earth, peace among people of good will!”
No sooner had the angels left them and gone back into heaven than the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go over to Beit-Lechem and see this thing that has happened, that Adonai has told us about.” Hurrying off, they came and found Miryam and Yosef, and the baby lying in the feeding trough. Upon seeing this, they made known what they had been told about this child; and all who heard were amazed by what the shepherds said to them. Miryam treasured all these things and kept mulling them over in her heart. Meanwhile, the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen; it had been just as they had been told.
*Keith Kloukau, delightful pastor and child of God