The Week of Joy
At the birth of your Son, you whisper to our hearts, Father, as you fill us with the joy of our salvation. We thank you. Amen
Weekly Advent Prayers by Betty Claire Jackson
By Diana Bridges
Shepherds in first-century Palestine understood their status in society. It was low and upward mobility wasn’t a possibility. Their work was necessary, but neither glamorous nor celebrated. If you pause for a moment, you’ll be able to identify those in our world who would fall into the same category.
If we hadn’t known this story our entire lives, it would be shocking that the angels gave this most important of messages to shepherds. (You might want to pause again to imagine the President delivering the State of the Union to an audience of migrant workers or the Queen of England giving her Christmas Day Address exclusively to day laborers.) Their response, however, was textbook — abject fear. The appearance of angels out of the blue seems to be one of the great levelers of humanity.
They soon followed orders and headed toward Bethlehem and the Baby. I wonder if that other piece of information ever took root in their overwhelmed minds. “I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide.” (The Message) Did they hold their heads a little higher, do their work with a greater sense of pride, teach their children and grandchildren this very good and inclusive news?
Where do we find ourselves in this bit of the gospel? We don’t occupy the high place of angels or the shepherds’ place on the margins. However, the meaning of the word angel is “messenger” and that actually is us. We’ve been entrusted with this treasure for the sake of all people everywhere, including those most often overlooked. This Advent and beyond may we find our joy multiplied as we embody the gospel to people in unexpected places.