Luke 2: A Shepherd’s Christmas Story on the Margins (Reflection 4)


Luke 2:13-16 Suddenly a vast, heavenly army appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among people with whom he is pleased!” When the angels left them and went back to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, that the Lord has made known to us.”16 So they hurried off and located Mary and Joseph, and found the baby lying in a manger.

This whole story of God’s messenger’s coming to Bethlehem to some shepherd’s out in the field and announcing the new king should seem oddly familiar to those who are knowledgeable of the Biblical narrative. Remember in 1 Samuel, when God sends Samuel to Bethlehem to pick out a new king for Israel. Jessie has his sons lined up for Samuel to check out which one might be the new king. However, David the youngest and smallest of them, was excluded from the entire process and was out in the field working as a shepherd. God reminds Samuel that he is not impressed with the outward things that impress people, and tells him to anoint David as the new king of Israel. It’s a story that echoes Jesus’ birth and also points out something common that we see weaved throughout the biblical narrative. God loves to take those on the Margins and place them on His Main Stage.

17-20 When they saw him, they related what they had been told about this child, and all who heard it were astonished at what the shepherds said. But Mary treasured up all these words, pondering in her heart what they might mean. Sot the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen; everything was just as they had been told.

And so it was in Bethlehem, a place on the margins, where these shepherd’s experienced the birth of God’s revolution, ushering in the Kingdom of peace and justice. I invite you to join in with the spirit of those shepherds and declare “Let us go to the margins (Bethlehem) and see this thing that has happened.” In joining in with God’s revolutionary mission, we will experience his divine presence in fresh ways. And we can bear witness to how God can make a way out of no way. And notice that the shepherd’s returned praising God for what they had experienced. I bet they were singing “angels bow before Him, heaven and earth adore Him, what a mighty God we serve.”  Therefore, like Mary, let’s stop and consider the significance and meaning of Jesus’ birth and particularly how Jesus, through his birth, finds solidarity with the marginalized in the world, and how God takes those on the margins and places them on His main stage of divine activity throughout history.

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