This Christmas I find myself wondering, yet again, about those Bethlehem shepherds.
It’s possible, of course, that the Almighty chose these particular sheepherders as recipients of the angelic birth announcement of his Son because they were a sheep-shearing cut above the other sheep guys in the region.
Maybe they were better-dressed than most, draped in new camo robes ordered from Zimfela’s Catalog complete with Velcro-secured mesh pockets for their ZX-7 night vision sheep-finding goggles.
Perhaps they were unusually prosperous shepherds, the sort who could afford a clean-robe-a-day laundry service; hence, if you were downwind and one was headed your way, your first clue would be visual or auditory, never olfactory.
Maybe, before entering any respectable domicile following their shepherd shift, they were careful to switch from their field sandals to high-dollar Habakkukstock footware lest they track in . . . something.
It’s even possible, I suppose, that the Lord God chose these particular fellows because they were unusually educated and articulate. Perhaps a couple or three of them were actually Aramaic majors who’d had a hard time finding lucrative employment after college but at class reunions, even though they were less well-sandaled than their Business major classmates, could take solace in the fact that they understood more about the meaning of life.
Or maybe the Creator chose them because they were, against all stereotypes, remarkably religious sheepherders. Sure, their work made it hard for them to attend worship services in town, but they never failed to hold regular devotionals during each of their shepherd shifts. Granted, it had been a bit more complicated since zealous young Zebulun, on vacation a couple of months ago, had wandered into a trendy mega-synagogue in Jerusalem. Now they were holding two devotionals an evening, one traditional and the other contemporary.
I suppose all of that is possible. But if you’re selling it (which is unlikely), I’m probably not buying.
What I really think is that our Father who brazenly, scandalously, seems to prefer ordinary folks over the boring and tedious, plastic and air-brushed, hang-your-own-halo, pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, super-spiritual crowd (always religiously first at the scene of any crucifixions)—chose these guys to be first at the scene of his Son’s birth precisely because they were . . . wait for it . . . ordinary.
I have no beef with these shepherds. Far from criticizing our Father’s choice, I find it laugh-out-loud delightful.
The heavens were torn open. The angel announced. The heavenly host sang. To an audience of guys who smelled conspicuously like the south ends of north-facing sheep, to gents whose manners and language were far from genteel, who were quite capable of describing recalcitrant sheep in colorful terms, and who’d heretofore been most likely to find angels only at the bottom of a wineskin.
For that Bethlehem birth announcement, God chose shepherds! Ordinary folks. Like us. Can you imagine anything more extraordinary?!
You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com! And . . . Merry Christmas!
Copyright 2016 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.