Easy-to-organise last-minute creativity for a Christmas service if you’re pressed! Goes well with Luke 2:8-20 (or radical choice – instead of!).
“We’re the unsung heroes, you know…No one gives us the blindest bit of notice. You’d think we were dirt, the way they treat us when we go into town…
The wages are rubbish and when you think what we have to do… Night shift in the freezing cold, wild animals on the prowl, and not a sniff of danger money… Bored out of our minds half the time and scared witless the rest… And in the day we’re at it non-stop – getting the maggots out of them, shearing them for market, hunting down the strays… Oh, did I tell you? We’re shepherds… We provide food for that stuck-up lot in town, wool for them as can afford it, and lambs for sacrifices in the temple… And all the thanks we get for it is the evil looks in the street… ‘Better stand down-wind of him…Cor, what a whiff! Did someone let one off?’
So there we were this one time… Sat round the fire with the usual bottle of something to keep the cold and the fear out, and then – there’s this other person there with us, talking to us somehow…and you could just hear a voice, inside you and outside you at the same time, if you know what I mean… Of course you don’t…I know you don’t…you couldn’t unless it happened to you…And I tried to look at him but it was like he was made of light…really brilliant light…
He said about the baby…a special baby born for us… ‘For shepherds?!’ I said, trying to make a bit of a joke of it, stop myself feeling so weak and wobbly. ‘Is there going to be a posher baby born for society people?’ I still wish I hadn’t opened my mouth. But he – she – it didn’t break me into a million pieces. It said, ‘This baby’s for everyone, and will bring peace to everyone who worships him.’
And then there was singing. No, not us! But them – a whole load of them by now, a blaze of light and music like you can’t describe. But it fills you with a joy and excitement so big you think you’re going to explode.
So we went to see the baby… he was easy to find, the only one in an animal shed – his mother had used her wits and made a trough into a kind of cot…God must have a sense of humour, I thought, to put his kid – if it really was his – in a baby bed like that. And among the straw and cow muck – well, we fitted right in. By the time we went back to the sheep, everything had changed. God thought of telling me about his Son’s arrival. He wasn’t the God I thought he was – he was much better. Much more human. Much more down-to-earth! I could worship a God like that…”