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December 27

Luke 2, 15-20

Something to read

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. But 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, as it had been told them.
New Revised Standard Version

To read the King James version click here

Something to think about

Shepherds of ancient Palestine, in Jesus' time, were some of the lowliest members of society. They were not paid well, and they were gone for days at a time, spending cold nights upon hills with their flocks.

Sometimes, as told here, they were gathered together to swap stories and share meals. They are told by an angel of this astounding news, however, and they go and pay homage to this new king, of a lowly social status much like them – certainly not of noble birth (in human terms!).

Here we set the tone for Jesus' astounding ministry: he is not surrounded by the powerful and the wealthy of this world, or even of his location.

The adoration of the lowliest is more than enough. And their reaction is one of excitement, and they relay this radically new message to all they see.

For what king wants the adoration of the lowest in society? Such homage is expected! The powerful of our world seek the homage of the powerful, and so on down the line.

Something to do

Try and see Christ in someone you never expected Christ to be. And then act as the shepherds.

Something to pray

God, let me have the humility to be a shepherd. Let me not seek to be as the powerful of this world, but to recognise the astounding arrival of Jesus' turn-the-world-upside-down message. Let me also be as a shepherd to those in this world. Let my actions speak as guidance to them and be real manifestations of my faith in a God who never ceases to upset the power structures of this world, so that God's bright-shining love penetrates to each member of society, and most powerfully the humble. Amen.

Ryan Sirmons is a minister in the United Church of Christ (USA) who studied at Westminster College, Cambridge.

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