In the cold, silent depths of the night, the only sounds heard are those of the livestock and the voices of the fellow shepherds around the campfire.  Weary from the workday they fight off the cold of the night air. Far from the outskirts of town, this is their turf. In town they are looked down upon, seen as uneducated and deemed unclean by the religious elite. That last part being ironic since many of these sheep they tend will end up being the sacrifices for the religious worship of those that look down upon them. 

These were the shepherds.

No one really knows how the once-lauded analogy of God being our shepherd seems to coexist with the disdain for shepherds now.

They were necessary but not wanted.

Living on the margins of their society.

Gathered together to knock off the chill of the night and of society. 

And suddenly, in the midst of the mundane, an angel stands before them.

An angel.

A heavenly being.

Appearing to the despised.

Appearing to those on the margins. 

What must have gone through their heads? 

Fear was definitely there. 

We see it in the angels’ address to them. 

What doubts may have come?

What insecurities surfaced?

And then the song, a song not fully understood by mortal ears. 

A song of rejoicing.

A song of hope.

The mystery of God revealed to the shepherds. 

In the scriptures we look at this week we see hear the music of the incarnation begin to gain momentum. It is joined by a heavenly choir, yet the audience is made up of “unclean” shepherds. Perhaps there is no better picture of the grace of God. The beauty of heaven, placed in the unclean hands of man. 

May we hear the words of the Father calling out to us: This is the mystery of My love, a love that is so pure its beauty cannot be described. This love is placed in your hands. I know that the light of my love reveals the dirt on your hands. I know that the callouses from your personal attempts at glory rub rough over the beauty of this grace. Yet this is why I came, this is the song I am inviting you to sing, the chorus of the ages that I am asking you to join in singing. The heavenly song of hope, first sung long ago, to an audience of unclean shepherds. Hear the song of the gospel, witness the incarnation of my love, and join the song.