In the town of Bethlehem
A king and ruler, child was born
Not too many people noticed
Just some shepherds on their farm
Plus a few hundred thousand angels
Breaking the heavens with their song
And the rocks and the mountains joined them
For their time had come
– from “Angels’ Song” by John Fischer
What a magnificent announcement, that some would think was wasted on peasant shepherds and no one else. A multitude of the heavenly host just for a handful of sheepherders by trade. Did you ever stop to consider that no one would have been there to witness the birth of the Son of God but a few barnyard animals had the angels not broken the silence of that quiet Palestinian night with their singing? God wanted someone there and what company He chose!
I also think God wanted Mary and Joseph to know this was indeed the real deal He had promised them. The exited shepherds telling about their spectacular angelic encounter must have been a huge confirmation. Had there been no one there, I imagine they might have been tempted to wonder if they’d been kidding themselves. But for shepherds, those angelic visitations could have been something they ate.
Of course there were kings, but they came later to a house, and saw the child, not a baby. And they came from a long way away. I know that doesn’t play well on our coffee tables at Christmastime, but it stands that the stable was for shepherds. They were right at home there. Thank God for the shepherds. He could have picked anyone, and He picked them. God wanted to share this moment with those who spend their time taking care of dumb, smelly sheep and goats. Kings, tax collectors, merchants, ship builders, tent makers, seamstresses, land owners … they would all come later. This was the moment for shepherds to shine. Something tells me this was an indication of who was going to respond to the message of salvation brought by this baby in a manger. The poor and hungry and oppressed have always been high on God’s list. The last shall be first — first in line … first to the stable.
A compilation of John’s Christmas related Songs for the Season