LUKE 2:8-18 (MSG)
‘There were sheepherders camping in the neighbourhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Saviour has just been born in David’s town, a Saviour who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”
At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:
“Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.”
As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.
Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!’
We probably know the story. We are familiar with the shepherds. But Joseph wasn’t, nor Mary. This is the first mention of shepherds meeting the baby Jesus. He hadn’t encountered them before. The shepherds were told about the birth by a load of angels. So Jesus was welcomed into the world by strangers.
When travelling home after giving birth to a new born, the infant is required to travel in a car seat. I haven’t done hours of research however it seems that some hospitals are very strict and accompany the new parents down to the car to ensure the baby is safe. It seems that in other cases hospital staff may be distracted by medical emergencies and so are not so stringent.
It’s a proud time as the delicate little bundle is carefully transported, and parents fumble with the straps for the first time. The driver, even if usually a road-rager, is unusually calm and considerate. Neighbours of the parents would know about the new birth, work colleagues, and the wider family may be waiting to visit.
That is not always the case for the asylum seeker. Sometimes the extended family has no knowledge of the new arrival. There is no one waiting to visit, no proud family members with helium-filled balloons, never-ending babygrows and encouraging words. Getting home is an issue. Who is going to welcome their baby? I don’t know if there are many shepherds in this city waiting to welcome new babies. I don’t know of many shepherds in this city rushing to welcome new arrivals. But maybe you are one of them.
- Who welcomed you into this world?
- How did you celebrate your child’s arrival?
- As a result of today I will… a) look for shepherds b)offer to be a birth partner for an asylum seeker, c) befriend an asylum seeker and be proud of their children