“Behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be to all the people! For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign unto you: you will find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12)
In telling and retelling the story of the shepherds and the angels in the fields outside Bethlehem, it’s easy to lose sight of the most important.
We picture those humble, working-class shepherds…given the most boring assignment in the world, to spend the night watching sheep who are not going to be doing anything or going anywhere anyway…. when suddenly the Angel of the Lord materializes, hanging in the sky out in front of them, and tells them–what else?–to “Fear not!” We join the shepherds in awe of the skyful of angels singing the excelsis deo, and then we run with them into Bethlehem as they flit from stable to stable in search of the one containing a young family with a newborn baby. They worship, then depart to spread the news.
Does anyone ever stop to reflect seriously on what the angel said to the shepherds in that opening statement?