May we have eyes to see and ears to hear and wits to understand that beauty is as close as breathing and is crying out to be born within ourselves and in the world.
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them, and Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told them.
It’s encouraging that Luke’s gospel shares this brief passage about the shepherds. The shepherds are fieldworkers who spend more time with animals than they do with people. Their jobs do not require high skill or many years of training. Considered lowly in society, it’s a wonder that Luke begins with the shepherds as the new Christ’s first visitors. This is curious to me, especially when considering Matthew’s recounting of the story in which the wise men were the first visitors. The last verse of this passage leaves the reader believing that hope has been given to the shepherds, and they are radically changed as a result of their encounter with Christ. The baby Jesus held such hope for these shepherds, and they left transformed. In Luke’s gospel, Jesus’ birth and the visitors are a reminder of what Jesus says later in Luke 13:30—the first shall be last, and the last first. If Jesus was born today, I wonder who would make a first appearance? I wonder who the Christ’s first visitors would be? In Luke’s gospel, Christ came even for the lowliest in society, showing that there is room for everyone in Christ’s kingdom, and that Christ’s transformative encounters are for people from all walks of life.
In my experience, faith has been a group project. I have been able to run because others have walked. People have been able to believe things for me even when I have not been able to believe them for myself. Consider writing a note to someone who has been radically changed by encountering Jesus and encourage them to keep the faith. It is a good work that they are doing, faithfulness is a rare fruit to come by.