In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see — I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger. (Luke 2: 8-12 NRSV)
Shepherds were the first to know of the birth of Jesus, except, of course, for Joseph and Mary. The fact that the greatest news the world has ever known was told first to a group of shepherds is so familiar to us now that we tend to overlook the fact that this amazing news that was given to a bunch of nobodies.
Of course, there were the Magi, who at least had a sign, a star that had caught the attention of these fellows who were learned men from Persia. Scholars tend to believe that the Wise Men showed up some time after the birth of Jesus, even though we tend to include them in the Christmas stories, and certainly in the pictures on Christmas cards!
In any case, we retell the story of Jesus’ birth again every Christmas, and it never fails to stir the heart, to give new hope to a weary world, and to offer us a fresh, new reason to rejoice and be glad.
So, in this world of joy and miracles and hope offered to us by God, let us give thanks!