Let's talk shepherds.
Both literally and figuratively they were outside of society. They had a lonely job and were removed from any positions or influence in the market place. And in general, they stunk.
"Shepherds had a hard time maintaining religious purity as the Pharisees defined it. They couldn’t keep the Sabbath because sheep need constant protection. Shepherds spent most of their time in the fields away from society and had no influence to speak of. In modern terms they were blue-collar workers largely unnoticed by those in power. Shepherds were in the lower classes of society." - Gabriel Powell
And if you're going to make a rather large, life-changing announcement, you wouldn't make it to a disheveled group of men who move sheep around in the lonely hills. At least I wouldn't.
But that's God for you. Doing the unexpected. Always loving the unlovely. The scruffy. The smelly. The not-shiny. The Too Much and Not Enoughs of the world.
Here's how it went down:
God seems to have a soft spot for shepherds. Remember King David? Long before he was king, he was an overlooked shepherd kid. Straight-up forgotten. When every other brother was summoned, he was left with the sheep.
But God turned that sheepish shepherd into a kingly king.
And let's not forget that later Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd. Herding us stubborn folk into a better pasture, even when we insist on eating from the dry and brown and patchy places.
And maybe that's one of the most unexpected moments: where God announces, like a proud Dad, the arrival of his Baby Boy to some nobodies. With angels and singing and festive lights. With a symphony that out-sings any one of us. With pomp and a puffed-up Dad chest.
He reveals this to shepherds who were keeping watch over their flock by night. These are the ones that are much like God Himself. Keeping watch over His people at night. In the darkest hours. Not sleeping; instead protecting. As if to say: "Hey, shepherds: I know your kind. I know your work. And I want you to know that today, this very moment, a Baby-King is here. And he's very much like you. You're gunna like Him. He will shepherd. He will herd. He will guide. Why don't you go tell the others about Him for me, will you? Since he's your kind?"
Dear God, thank you for coming to us in our stink. In our dark night. In our wandering ways. For coming to us when we are way outside what we hoped we could be. When we are forgotten, side-stepped, alone in the field. When we are the least of these. When we are shepherding and very much need a Shepherd. Thank you for coming to the most unexpected field with a choir of angels and beauty and good news. You're a Good Shepherd. So good. All honor and glory and praise to the Shepherd-King.