Here's the latest installment of Christmas reflections. This one comes from this month's issue of Joyful Tidings, our senior adult newsletter.
When God chose to announce the birth of His Son in Bethlehem, He didn’t call a press conference or leak the news story to the Jerusalem Tribune. There was no social media network to employ like Facebook or Twitter, so God did the next best thing He could do. He sent a choir of angels to some shepherds who were tending their flocks on the Judean hillsides outside of the city of David. That might seem like an odd choice on His part if the purpose of the announcement was indeed to broadcast the news of the Messiah’s coming. Common sense would dictate that employing some official channel of communication would function better than revealing this momentous event to a class of society looked down upon by the general public. God’s plans rarely coincide with ours though.
As it turns out, God’s choice of the shepherds proved to be fortuitous. These nomadic wanderers would crisscross the Palestinian landscape throughout the year, moving their herds in search of green pastures and fresh water. Undoubtedly for years to come after the night that they paid a visit to a young couple in a Bethlehem stable and observed the young boy lying in a manger, they repeated the story of what they had experienced. The dazzling light from heaven, the angel’s astounding message of good news of great joy for all people, and the angelic choir singing God’s praises must have been topics of conversation with other wandering shepherds each time they camped and sat around a nighttime fire.
I think that’s the best possible explanation for the amazing response of the people to the preaching of John the Baptist when he emerged as the forerunner for Jesus’ public ministry. For almost thirty years the people had heard stories of that night’s miraculous events, and now they were eager to hear the one whose message pointed to the Messiah’s appearing. May we also like the shepherds never tire of telling the old, old story of Jesus and His love.