Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!
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 of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ 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,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:8-14)
It was probably a normal night. Shepherds were likely in a large circle, surrounding their gathered flocks for protection, either telling stories or singing as they guarded their sheep. That rocky field still sits there today — undeveloped. No roads. No street lights. No development. Aside from the moon and starlight, night is pitch black there. I was a typical night, until the angel showed up.
Put yourself in the place of those shepherds. They had faced many predators, but had never seen anything like this! A single angel — a messenger from heaven — appears to them, and the glory of God surrounded him. The glory here is not described, but it is elsewhere — an all-consuming fire, a terrifying cloud, a pillar of fiery light, the continuous brilliance of lightning. The holy messenger and God’s glory appeared in the darkness. And he came with a message.
The first part of the message was reassurance — “do not be afraid!” But the remainder of the message was unbelievable: a child — a Savior — the Messiah had been born! The great and joyful proclamation by the holy angel accompanied by God’s own glory did not appear to kings, princes, rulers or even religious leaders, it was first proclaimed to the lowest (even disliked) of society: the shepherds. And so Jesus’ relationship with the most needy begins.
For today, think about times where you have been overlooked, disliked or even hated. What was your experience? What does it mean to you that Jesus has come for the forgotten, disliked and overlooked?