Posted by: graceunbound | December 11, 2008

Cast of characters – The shepherds

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ [fn1] the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly 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.”

 15 When 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.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.  Luke 2: 8-20 (NIV)

Why shepherds? Have you ever wondered that? Was it just so we could stand out under starry skies at Christmastime and picture ourselves as shepherds on hills far, far away? I suppose it could have been because it had to be an outdoor event in order to accomodate a ‘great company of the heavenly host’. But really, given God’s ingenuity, I’m certain an indoor event with the same impact could have been arranged. Why shepherds? So that we, years later, could draw meaningful parallels between the shepherds coming to worship the one who is the Good Shepherd?

Or maybe it is because the were the most ordinary of the ordinary. They weren’t doing anything special. They weren’t studying scripture, they weren’t worshipping at the temple, they were just doing their job. And in the midst of their ordinary night, surrounded by ordinary sheep, as they talked their ordinary guy talk…God interrupted.

Boy, did he ever interrupt! Can you imagine? One moment you are sitting at your desk working on your computer, or stocking shelves at Walmart, or picking up toys after your child, or working on the assembly line and all of a sudden, “HEY! DON’T BE AFRAID! I MEAN, YEAH, I KNOW I’M BIG AND GLOWING AND I APPEARED OUT OF NOWHERE BUT SERIOUSLY, DON’T BE AFRAID! GUESS WHAT? YOU THOUGHT THIS WAS JUST ANOTHER ORDINARY DAY? HAVE I GOT A SURPRISE FOR YOU! YOU’VE GOT A SAVIOR!”

No, we don’t get angels and heavenly choirs interrupting our days anymore. But God wants us to know that even in the midst of the most ordinary day, the most ordinary task, he has the capability to interrupt us and turn our world upside down with joy. That’s the message of the shepherds. They went from sitting on a hill watching over their flocks to returning glorifying and praising God.

How is God going to interrupt your world today, and how are you going to glorify and praise him to others?



  1. I think shepherds were involved too because they would accept this as good news. The religious folk within Judaism did not. There were already too many false messiahs.

    Think of the religious and educated that did come. They were Iranian Zoroastrian magi or priests!

    So it wasn’t a blow against the religious leadership in general, but those that had closed their minds and spirits to the possibility of an interruption and changing the way they lead.

    I love the groups God pulls into the incarnation story.

    • Hey, don’t steal my thunder…I’m working on the magi next! 😉 But I agree, the incarnation story is so full of people of all ages and backgrounds.

  2. quick delete it! just being a “spiritual leader” type had to make a cloud to run into.

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