In Jesus’ day to be a shepherd didn’t mean much. It was a pretty basic job. Pay was low and of course, much of the time a shepherd was away from family and friends. They were also, like their sheep, notoriously smelly.
The Christmas story makes much of the shepherds, though. Angels appear in the heavens singing to shepherds! They leave their sheep (typical!) to go in search of the special baby.
Later, important people arrive, but at first, it is just the shepherds. The least, the lowly, the lost and the last. These dregs are the first ones to meet God’s Son arriving in the world. And all through the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, it is the unimportant, the rejected and the outcast who are the people who can really see and understand who he is.
This Christmas Anglicare here in Ballarat has handed out well over a thousand Christmas hampers to the “shepherds” in our own community.
May we, like the shepherds of old, be filled with wonder, excitement, anticipation and curiosity as we celebrate this Christmas. And like Jesus, may we reach out to the least, the lowly, the lost and the last, with good news, that they are valued by God and by us.
Fr Ryan Bennett
Bishop’s Chaplain at Christ Church Cathedral