Why on earth were the shepherds, these ordinary low-class working men, chosen by God, to be given the honour of being the first people to be told the news of Christ’s birth?
The truth is God came to the world just as it was. He didn’t wait for it to be good enough or clean enough or holy enough. He shone His glory into the ordinariness of a day’s work.
“Do not be afraid” the angel said, “for I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people”
Can you imagine all the angels of heaven bursting into your office, or your work, or your kitchen, how would you feel?
As it was, they left their sheep and rushed to find the stable where the new-born baby was, watched over by His young mother.
We have heard this story so often that we can forget its enormous impact.
What was in the hearts and minds of the shepherds when they found everything was just as the angels had said?
Perhaps a slow dawning that something life-changing; world-changing had really happened, even if they didn’t fully understand what it was.
As they stood in that stable, wearing their smelly work clothes, faces shining with sweat from the exertion of getting there; they met with God.
They told the baby’s young mother about the angels; and perhaps she needed that reassurance herself.
She had given birth for the first time, far away from her home and her family, in a dirty stable. Perhaps she wondered where God was in it all?
Perhaps she feared that things were not going the right way.
The visit from the shepherds, and their message from the angels, would have reassured and comforted her at such a scary and vulnerable time.
And what about us?
Where is God in the pandemic situation that we have found ourselves in this year?
Well, He’s where He has always been; right here with us helping us through it.
During this extraordinary year God has never left us, He has always been at our side. Despite the changes in all our lives imposed by this terrible disease the message that God sends us is always the same.
The message of Christmas is that God, out of His great kindness, meets you just where you are.
You don’t have to go somewhere special to find Him. He knows who you are, and He knows what you need.
He is much more interested in the openness of your heart to Him than He is in the tidiness of your house or the quality of your Christmas dinner.
Let’s invite Him today into the ordinariness of our lives and let us pray that we may have the simple faith of the shepherds, the quiet trust of Mary and Joseph; and may we also know that same capacity for joy and wonder.
And may we all also enjoy, Peace on earth and goodwill to all men