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The intriguing thing about contrasts is their similarities.

For example, Bill Crowder (RBC Ministries) illustrates this with the two top rock bands in the 1960’s, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Both bands were from England, and both bands were revolutionary in their music, but the similarities end there.

The Beatles (in their early years), under the careful tutelage of manager Brian Epstein, were clean-cut, dressed in suits, and fun, while the Stones were dark and brooding and looked more like a street gang than professional musicians. The Beatles were likeable enough to spawn a cartoon series; the Stones were edgy and presented themselves as being almost dangerous. The Beatles innocently sang, “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” the Stones pushed the edges of propriety for that day with “Let’s Spend The Night Together.” As you’d expect their fan bases were radically different.

The Christmas story holds that kind of contrast. Can you think of two groups more different than the angels and the shepherds? The angels belong to another world, but the shepherds belong to the lowest social class in this world. The angels are bright and glorious with heavenly light, but the shepherds are dirty and carry the stench of sheep. The angels knew what it was like to exist in the presence of God, but the shepherds were excluded from the very temple they provided sheep for sacrifice. The angels explode onto the scene with loud, dynamic shouts of praise and worship, but the poor shepherds are stunned and frightened into silence.

Despite these Grand Canyon like differences, in the matter of Christmas, the angels and the shepherds display a surprising similarity. They both wonder at the birth of God the Savior! For centuries Christians have celebrated with awe and joy the birth of the Savior, but the first was this odd couple of angels and shepherds. They come from very different perspectives but they come to the same conclusion: the birth of God the Savior is wondrous.

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