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The Christmas Story: Starring the Shepherds



In the last post, we dove into the Magi's journey to see Jesus, and ultimately, how their story applies so much to our story. We reflected on all that they gave up, surrendered, and sacrificed to meet with Jesus, and how our response to experiencing Jesus should be similar. And in the post before that, we learned about how Mary and Joseph were a part of the Christmas story, and how we can be inspired by their faith and worship, even in the middle of life shaking circumstances.


And today, I want to dive into the shepherds, and how they contributed to the Christmas story. I want to try to see how they experienced things, how their lives were changed, and how we can find ourselves in their story as well. Believe it or not, the shepherds are actually a really important part of the Christmas story, and they can encourage us in so many ways.

 

For the shepherds, it was a completely normal night. As they were watching over their flocks, it was probably pretty quiet. Maybe they were chatting among themselves, or maybe they were silently admiring the stars, but the Bible doesn't give us those details. The important part is that for the shepherds, this night started out as being completely uneventful. Little did they know, it would not stay uneventful for much longer.


Because all of a sudden, out of nowhere, an angel of the Lord appeared to them.


And they were terrified.


Rightfully so.


The angel tells the shepherds not to be afraid, that the Messiah has been born that very night. The angel shares this good news, and tells the shepherds that this baby will bring joy to all the nations.


And the shepherds are the first ones to hear about this good news.


This is a big deal because in that culture, the shepherds weren't highly favored. They weren't even considered average. No, they were looked down upon. The shepherds were considered unclean and dirty, and they often had to watch over their flocks outside of the city gates. They had important jobs, yes, but they were also often smelly and covered in dirt. They were outcasts.


And I absolutely love the story of the shepherds because I relate in so many ways. So many times, I've felt left out, unincluded. I've felt judged or looked down upon because of something I enjoy doing, or maybe because of who I am. I've felt dirty because of mistakes that I've made. But even though the shepherds felt that way, even though they weren't particularly loved or chosen by people, they were loved and chosen by God. And so are we, no matter what the world says.


No matter what the world thinks of us, God has chosen us. He chose to send His Son as a little baby to this broken, sinful world, so that He could save us. He invites us into a relationship with Him.


No matter what the world thinks of us, God wants us. He wants to be with us, broken and dirty and left out and all. He wants to know us and walk with us, deeply and intimately, and that's the whole reason why He sent Jesus.


The shepherds are a beautiful reminder of His love for us, no matter what we've been called or classified as. The shepherds remind us that no matter how we've been treated or thought as by the people around us, God chooses us and is using us and is including us in His grand plan for humanity. And because of this, we can live confidently and securely in what He says about us. We can be unafraid of what others say, and we can live knowing that God has a purpose for our lives and for His mission.


But that's not the only thing we can learn and be reminded of by the shepherds, because they weren't just chosen by God, they did something about it.


After the angels left the shepherds, instead of sitting around and keeping their good news of Jesus' birth to themselves, they hurried to find Mary, Joseph, and the baby. Once they saw the young Messiah in person, they went and told everyone in sight about this good news.


Too often, we get comfortable with the good news of Jesus and keep it to ourselves. But the shepherds are such a great example to us about what our response should be to Jesus' birth (and really, everything about His life) - it should be to go and spread the news!


This Christmas, let's be intentional about talking to others and sharing what Jesus has done for us, in us, and through us. Let's not hold the true meaning of Christmas to ourselves because it's gotten lost in our culture's obsession with busyness and receiving and worldly things. Let's be a light in our communities, fearlessly glorifying and praising our Messiah. May we not keep Jesus to ourselves, but instead boldly proclaim the good news of Jesus' birth!

 

I've found so much comfort in the shepherd's story and how God chose them to be the first people He announced Jesus' birth to. I'm continually learning more about who God says I am, and that no matter what the world says, His opinion of me matters more than anything else. And isn't that what so many of us need to hear right now? So many of us feel unworthy by the world's standards, but despite that, our Father in Heaven has a beautiful, intentional plan for each and every one of us.


What's the biggest thing that you've learned from the shepherds story? What is God teaching you about yourself through this part of the Christmas story? I'd love to hear down in the comments below!

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