the Shepherds

This week our focus in the Christmas story is the shepherds.  Coincidentally at home school this morning our reading was about the shepherds.  Reading extra from “Journey Through the Bible” it commented that these shepherds were not just dumb shepherds as I had always believed (no offence!) but they were from the temple… I was intrigued.

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As I’ve looked at this it seems these shepherds were guarding sacrificial lambs, set apart by the high priest to be used at passover.  The reason they were working at night was because this flock was huge and these lambs/sheep, chosen as undefiled needed to be kept that way.  These shepherds had the task of keeping an eye on these active little lambs, to make sure they did not become defiled, to keep them safe, to keep them pure, ready for them to be used in the sacrifice at Passover.   Wow!  God sent the angels with a message for THESE shepherds, the ones watching over the sacrificial lambs, they needed to go and find the Lamb of God.

The shepherds however were not “holy, holy”.  As shepherds they were considered unclean people, they did not meet the laws set out in Leviticus, they were constantly touching ‘dirty’ and dead things.  As defiled people they were not allowed into the temple, they could not bring a sacrifice, they could not come into the place of God. This in itself seems kind of ironic, the ones guarding the sheep couldn’t then offer a sacrifice.  Anyway, do you know what, God called them to Him.  They did not need to bring a sacrifice, they did not need to bring one of those lambs set apart as a Passover lamb because God chose them that night to come into His presence, with their dirt and defilement to see the lamb that would be the sacrifice for once and all.  How amazing is that?

I always likedthat the shepherds were normal people, doing simple work, not the fancy, educated wise men with their rich gifts. Nothing against you clever people.  But the shepherds always seemed friendlier, maybe it was the tea towels rather than crowns.  Perhaps it was just because  I liked singing they washed their socks by night much more than Ooooo star of Wonder, Star of Light…

Oh, but how much more I love his part of the story now.  God is so clever.  He announces to the ones who couldn’t come into the temple to come and meet with Him face to face, to the ones who guarded the Passover lambs to come and find the sheep that was not with the flock, but the Lamb who would one day die as a sacrifice for all of us.  

It doesn’t matter I don’t make the perfect grade, it doesn’t matter I walk in the muck and mess of life God is showing up to invite me to the manger.

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