ABC day 21: On the margins

Have you ever felt like you’re on the outside? Today we’re challenged with the story of the shepherds from Luke 2:8-14. They were an unlikely bunch, the shepherds. If this truly was a king who had been born, why were his first visitors some unknown shepherds? Why not other nobles? The great and the good of Bethlehem? Perhaps the magi?

Maggi reminds us that the shepherds of the time were a bit rough and ready, to say the least. They lived in the fields with their flock. They probably weren’t the most welcome in well-to-do circles. Yet they were the first to whom the angels appeared.

Yesterday was my last day in the office. Jokingly, I pointed out I wasn’t going home for a rest – the first of eight services I’m helping at between then and turkey time was last night. Lessons and carols is superbly done – uplifting, spiritual, beautifully executed. And don’t get me wrong – you’ll tell from my posts so far that I do like a nice bit of choral music.

But sometimes we need to get back to the Gospels. To remember that God isn’t just about a witness to the middle-class sensibilities of a well-to-do town in middle England. There’s something more raw. A gift shared with the poor as much as the rich – perhaps more so. As Mary foretold when she learned she was to give birth to Jesus:

50 His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.

Let us remember this – that the Good News is for each and every one of us. And the middle class, tinsel-tinged Christmas that society tells us we should aspire to is not what it’s really all about.

To close, a musical treat. Back to humble, traditional Yorkshire roots. The wonderful Kate Rusby sings a traditional carol:

Maranatha. Come, Lord Jesus.

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