On that first Christmas night, the first people to hear about the birth of the Christ Child were shepherds taking care of their flock in the fields outside of Bethlehem. Can you imagine that? Of all people, the shepherds. They smelled like sheep. They were dirt poor. They slept on the ground. They kept to themselves. They were certainly not important people. And they were a pretty rough bunch.
But the angel appeared to them, of all people. The shepherds weren’t even allowed inside the Temple. They were considered “unclean,” and were looked down upon by most people. But the shepherds were the first ones to meet the baby Jesus. Not the governor or the king. Not the city council or the high priest. Of all people, the angel appeared to the shepherds, the least likely ones.
That reminds me of something pretty important: the good news of the Gospel is for everyone. The good news of Christmas is for all people. It doesn’t matter who we are. It doesn’t matter that others might consider us an outsider. It doesn’t matter what our past might be like. Our looks, our popularity, our financial status, our health, our reputation, none of that matters.
The message of the angel to the shepherds is for all time: “Don’t be afraid. I have good news of great joy for ALL people.” (Luke 2: 10-11)
Everyone is invited to God’s table. May the shepherds in our nativity set remind us of this awesome truth today.