Summary: Seeing Christmas from the shepherds’ viewpoint.
The Shepherds’ Christmas
Luke 2:8-20 (NIV)
8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
15When 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."
16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Perhaps you have not noticed this but shepherds were a big part of the Christmas story. They are not just some extras in the “movie” of Christmas. They are not like the unnamed disposable stormtroopers of an evil empire in a Star Wars movie, who appear and disappear as the hero, Luke Skywalker vaporized them with his trusty light-sabre. Luke 2:8-20 tells us the shepherds were taking the starring role. They were involved in all the speaking parts! They are like King Kong in the King Kong movie (bad analogy – don’t think King Kong had a speaking part – just grunts and roars). So let’s take some time today and examine with me the shepherds’ Christmas. Have you considered how they might have felt when they heard of the Christ child being born? What were they thinking? Snowflakes falling, not likely! I wonder how that night would alter their lives as the angels appeared to them?
I invite you to use some imagination and think with me, go back in time to that first Christmas day … think time travel and put yourself into the shoes of the shepherds who were keeping watch over their flocks at night. … What if I were a shepherd. … I would be part of a despised group.
Why am I despised? Shepherds, you see, they have a bad reputation. We are not superheroes, who would save one sheep at the expense of ninety nine others. No, we would save 99 over one! If one sheep is missing, it is already more than likely served as ‘dimsum” in a wolf’s TV dinner.
If I were a shepherd… I would be rough, unshaven, unfashionable, bad haircut or no haircut, not GQ material for sure! No business suits for me! I would be uneducated, low-skilled, in the company of questionable folks who are probably foul-mouthed, tell dirty jokes, who typically keep long hours at work (bad shift work), you know like keeping watch over the flock by night) . Which means, I am not a church-going type of guy. If I do go to church, I would miss church service on a regular basis, because of the lousy hours. Most decent folk would think I would challenge core family values. Decent folk would avoid me!
I would likely have a mean streak. Gotta kill carnivores who would want the sheep for food. Or do violent things to rustlers/robbers who would steal my sheep. My boss more than likely does not trust me fully, because they keep losing one sheep here and one sheep there. It sure gets me mad when the boss docks my pay! But can I help it, if the sheep is stupid??? Probably, he think I am busy playing cards with my buddies or lazy sleeping on the job because it’s a boring job, it’s like watching grass grow. And when I do watch the grass grow, they get eaten up by the sheep!
I am consumed by searching for grass and water in a dry and stony and sometimes really hot and hostile climate. Sometimes I have to travel far from human civilization, far from cities, just to get those sheep food and shelter from the climate. So I have to sleep outside, in tents. Maybe if I have time, I would catch some sleep here and there, get some badly needed rest in the midst of noisy bleating sheep. And you think camping is fun, try doing it all your life! Got no bed, got no good scientifically proven hiking shoes because Nikes were not invented yet. Then stepping on sheep droppings, yuck! Furthermore, I got no sun screen (but I got a tan to die for), no hot showers, no deodorant stick for my underarms, bad body odor, got no MP3 player to keep me occupied when the days get really long… So if you see me, a little out of touch with hygiene, grouchy and a little stressed, weary, it’s not because the wife was mean to me. You just be glad to have a wife and a bed to go home to! All I have is smelly sheep 24/7 who don’t care about me!