Voices of Christmas - A Shepherd

I have imagined the reactions and thought processes of those people involved in the Christmas narrative.

I hope that it will assist your meditations on these events with fresh thoughts.

Me and my mates were out working – looking after the sheep on the hills outside Bethlehem. It was cold, dark and, in general, not a very nice night – but someone has to do it.

We are the outcasts of society – we provide the temple sacrifices and the food on the table, but the towns people don’t want anything to do with us. It was our job to provide the perfect lambs for the priests, but we were stopped from going inside the temple grounds. We are forbidden to give evidence in courts and are considered to be thieves even though there is no evidence.

Meanwhile, we were freezing our fingers to the bone without any thanks from the hoity toity. We were happy though because we could hear the bleating of the sheep and the higher pitches of the lambs. There is nothing better than being close to creation, although sometimes I wish  there were warmer ways of doing it! In the distance, we could also hear the howling of the wolves. We were not afraid because we were strong in numbers and, in any event, predators were afraid of fire.

The flames were flickering bright as someone had put on more firewood to stop it going out. The stars were shining with hinderance as there was not a cloud in the sky.

Suddenly, there was a brighter presence which startled us, and we are big strong guys that no-one messes with. It was a man who was lit up. He started with ‘Do not be afraid,’ which was a good one as most of us were wetting ourselves at this point.

He went on to say that he was bringing us good news, which made a change because most people around here only brought us bad news. The good news was for all people, including people on the edge of society like us, for in the town of Bethlehem below us was born a Saviour.

Just when we were beginning to think that we were born yesterday, the angel continued to say that the sign we were to look for was a baby in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. What was peculiar about this was that most babies are laid in a crib and not in an animal’s feeding place. Try putting your child in your pet’s feeding bowl! There was something unusual about this announcement.

However, things got more interesting. As this angel had stopped speaking, there was a whole bunch of them behind him. It was super bright and, if any of my mates had gone to sleep, they would have been woken up by all this illumination.

They praised God with the words: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests.’ It was easy to remember these words, even for guys like me who are one sheep short of a flock – if you know what I mean.

We were inquisitive so we left the sheep in the hands of several younger boys and headed into town because we wanted to see what the angel had been talking about. It was not too difficult to find out the houses where new-born babies were, it was a matter of finding out which baby was laid in the trough.

We entered into the animal enclosure to see him. People might have thought that it was smelly; but if you live among animals for as long as I have, your nose gets used to it. It was our last concern because we wanted to see this Saviour sent to rescue all people – clever or simple, rich or poor, Jewish or Gentile. In the mucky straw, we bowed down to worship this king who was born in a downtrodden way and whom we could identify with. He was so small and yet, and yet, there was something about this Jesus (as they named him) that made him bigger, for God was truly among us.

It was such good news that the Messiah – the Promised One – had finally come to save us that we couldn’t help ourselves telling all the people in town and in the neighbourhood about it – there was going to be no sway that we were going to keep it to ourselves. There was no stopping us for we had smiles on our faces and a great message in our hearts. It was for all people, without limits and without labels.

Points to ponder:
·        What is our response to the marginalised in society?
·        Do we see others as God sees them?
·        What does it mean to us to be a friend of Jesus?