When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
(Luke 2:15-20, New Living Translation)
The Christmas Story is all about journeys.
There’s the unusual journey of Joseph and Mary, as they are caught up in a somewhat bizarre census…
the extraordinary journey of a caravan of Zoroastrian star-gazers…
and the supernatural journey of an army of angels deployed on a peace-keeping mission.
And then there is the small-and-simultaneously-epic journey of a gang of sheep herders.
Geographically, it is a journey from the open hills; to that shore-line between town and countryside, where the first/last houses are, and the caves where the animals shelter; and on, into the centre of the settlement. And then, by choice, back again.
Socially, it is a journey from being outside of the community (even today, and in my own country, those who farm livestock work 24/7/365 and find themselves excluded from even the wider rural communities in which they are located); to those on the margins of community; to the heart of community. And then, by choice, back again.
Where do I need to choose to journey from outside of the community to the heart of the community?
Where do I need to choose to journey from the heart of the community to outside of the community?
What is it that God wants me to see – and be transformed by seeing – at the margins of the community?