Friday, December 17
Whether clad in bathrobes at a Sunday school pageant or standing guard in fields outside Bethlehem, shepherds are integral to the birth narrative. This is another of those verses easily overlooked, taken for granted. I love that several versions begin with and or now as Luke turns his–and our–attention from the manger to what is happening in fields surrounding crowded, noisy Bethlehem.
Shepherds often take center stage in Israel’s history. Most notable is David called in from the field to be chosen as king. It’s important to note that young women were also shepherds: Rachel is name and honored, Jethro’s daughters were in the Bethlehem fields long before Luke’s treatise. In the time of the patriarchs, shepherding was a noble occupation, but when Egypt ruled over Israel, shepherds were looked down upon, even despised. By the tine of Jesus’ birth, Randy Alcorn writes, “…shepherds stood on the bottom rung of the Palestinian social ladder. They shared the same unenviable status as tax collectors and dung sweepers…”
We will look further at these evangelist-shepherds (announcers of good news), but for now I want you to look around at the most “unacceptable” people in your community. Is it the unshaven, unwashed, homeless person on the corner? Or the tattooed, pierced purple-haired teen? Or the woman covered in a black hajib? Sit with–perhaps even literally?–the homeless,the teen, the woman for a while. Are you restless, uncomfortable? Do you shift your eyes away? Could you invite them for coffee?
God consistently uses the unlikely for Kingdom work. Abraham was too old, Jacob was a liar, Moses was a stutterer, Rahab was a prostitute, David was a murderer, the Samaritan woman was an outcast, Zacchaeus was too small. God is ready to work through you during these Advent days. Don’t limit yourself. Or God.