Visitation of Angels to the Shepherds
8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before 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; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
In the first century, shepherds were not considered respectable people. In our day, they would likely be labelled “thugs.” They had been removed from polite society to live nomadically and attend to sheep, away from the community. And they smelled like their animals. The smell of the sheep was a mark of shame.
This is where and to whom God’s messengers announce the birth of the Savior, the Messiah, and the Lord. This is where and to whom God gives the greatest revelation in human history. It is in the depths of a winter night, outside of respectable society, to shamed outcasts that God’s messages announce the Good News for the first time. It is to shepherds that this news is entrusted. They are the first to be invited to encounter God-in-flesh, Jesus Christ.
It is in the depths of darkness, outside of respectability, in the midst of shame that the Word of God’s grace is given and received. The promise of hope is heard in the night.
What word of grace or hope have you received in your darkness? In your shame? Dwell in the unfulfilled promise, the hope of grace in the midst of winter’s night within you.