The Shepherds Call








Scriptural Reference:
Luke 2:8-20
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 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 that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, 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 heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour 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.

The Shepherds were low by social standards. The last ones you'd expect to be visiting in the middle of the night. Especially after a less then perfect birth. But there they are. Knocking on the Manger Door. Or to be Post Modern Correct, standing outside a dwelling with a built in manger.

There are several aspects of the story of the Shepherds. The first has been mentioned. Shepherds were somewhere located down at the bottom of the social spectrum. Not educated and somewhat dirty and dishevelled.

The next aspect is that we don't know exactly how many Shepherds are being addressed. As, just like the mention of the Magi or Wise Men, the Shepherds are not numbered. The standard Folklore has been rough;y three of them. So given an average of 30 sheep per Shepherd, we'd be looking at at least ninety sheep all told that they were looking after. Not likely that they dragged them along with them when they gate crashed at the place where the Lord Jesus was born. So they would have had to leave them somewhere seemingly safe.

The next which gets missed most times are the Angels. Throughout the Old Testament we get images of fearsome and avenging Angels. Bringing dire consequences and fear wherever they tread. And no they didn't "Tread Lightly" in those days. So of course the Shepherds were more then a little afraid. They were in utter shock. Quaking for their very life's. But wait there's more. The Angels tell them to calm down and relax. They were there for 'Good Tiding" and not to bring about "Holy Retribution". Which must have been a great relief to the Shepherds. So much so that they dropped everything and ran off to see the new born King or Kings.

Next point of interest? They left behind the sheep. I can't agree or accept that they would have herded roughly ninety sheep across country, through a village and to the front door of a dwelling. So back to leaving the sheep behind. This is really dereliction of their duties. If while they were gone the sheep had gone astray. Been stolen. Or eaten by strays dogs or wolfs. They would have been passably stoned to death. So they took a huge risk.

Now follow the story as they follow the star and general directions the Angels gave them. Arriving at the gates or edge of the village they, the socially lower class, will now have to enter the village at night. Most notably is that people who are honest do not enter a village at night unless they have a good reason. These guys would have been considered breaking a few social norms of the times. So imagine as they wander around checking different houses and places to see if the baby King of Kings was by any chance born there. The confused looks on the owners may have said it all.

But they arrive at the right dwelling and with awe inspiring gusto they knock on the door or perhaps what passed as a door (for you Post Modernists who read this). Opening up the door would have been Joseph. As Mary would hopefully still be resting. Here are several rough, dirty smelly and bewildered Shepherds asking if the King of Kings had been born there and if they can drop in to say hello. Joseph would have been taken aback and somewhat dumbfounded. Perhaps the voice of Mary inside calling to let them in (as Hospitality was a social norm of the time). She also had her personal insights as to who the baby really was.

So in trod the shepherd, who would have really felt at home in the enclosure for animals. Lucky them. The other animal smells would have masked their own slight smells. Jesus is sleeping peacefully. Mary and Joseph are staring at the Shepherds. The Shepherds are looking slightly confused at Jesus as they may have been expecting something a little older or stringer or royal in appearance.

Then possibly a yawn from Mary and a nod from Joseph. And off the Shepherds go to spread the Good News far and wide. Hopefully not forgetting about the sheep and getting back to them. Leaving Mary to ponder the odd events and what to expect next.

Note I did not mention the Three Magi or Wise Men. They did not show up until much later when Jesus was somewhat older and they had moved into a house. All those Nativity Scenes with the Shepherds and Magi both visiting a Manger are not entirely correct. So start throwing them out. Well if you're a Post Modernist you may have already done this.

There is humour in the smile of a child,
There is music in the sounds of their laughter.
Each new life is a blossom of grace.
A gently reminder of your birth.
May we never lose the warmth,
Love and beauty of love.
Of your Grace shown to us all.