The Shepherd’s Part in the Christmas Story

December 23, 2011 at 3:36 pm Leave a comment

A beautiful but simple set of creche figures made of stone, along with a wooden shelter, that I purchased one year at the One of a Kind Craft Show. Now that we have frequent visits from small ones, the creche has a new seasonal home on our window ledge.


Here’s the story about the shepherds on that night long ago, for those who may not be familiar and for those who know it well.

More than two thousand years ago, a heavenly messenger was sent to some shepherds watching over their sheep in the dark fields around Bethlehem. The men were terrified, but the angel told them not to be afraid, that he came bearing good news.

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Then a whole band of angels appeared in the sky, singing their praises.

 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:11-14NIV

The shepherds decided they had to go and see this baby, to find out for themselves what this was all about, and so some of them went walking into the town of Bethlehem. It might have been a long walk at night, but they wrapped their cloaks about them and set out. They found Mary and Joseph, and they saw the baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger—the child the angel had spoken of.

“When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.”

The shepherds would have gone back to the fields and to the other shepherds guarding their sheep. Perhaps it was daylight by the time they arrived. They would go back to their jobs, since that was the only work they knew, but they would go back rejoicing.


This is only part of the Christmas story, of course. Even as an adult, I have questions. I’ve heard the story many times and wonder: Did the shepherds talk to Mary and Joseph? Did they tell them about the angel who brought the message and the whole choir of angels in the sky? Then I wonder too if they were so in awe that they could say little, but bowed down and worshipped this child. Maybe they brought a gift, perhaps a new lamb from their flock, as we bring a gift when we go to see a new baby, or perhaps they just came.

We are told the shepherds were so excited that they went about telling the good news about the baby, the Saviour. Imagine the story they’d tell when they returned to their flocks and the other shepherds who kept watch. Who could sleep after an event like that?

This Christmas, I’ll hear and read the story again and probably have new questions, all while remembering the announcement came not to kings and queens, but to men of  lowly station in life.  Even the wise men had to figure out what the star meant.

The baby, Jesus, the Saviour, came that each one of us  might know God’s love.


Entry filed under: faith. Tags: , .

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