The sky is dark. The land is silent. For the shepherds it is like any other night. They watch their flocks as they always do, expecting nothing out of the ordinary. But tonight is not an ordinary night. No, something cosmic is underfoot. God himself in human flesh; the Son of God become son of man. It happens all so quietly. A baby born like any other – born in a stable at that. The moment is passing with the world unaware.
But not for the shepherds. They are not respected. They are not important. They inhabit the lower rungs of the social ladder. But to these, the lowly, there comes the message. It is theirs alone to hear.
The messenger is terrifying, an angel in glory, but the message itself is pure grace. A Savior is born, the Messiah, the Lord! Then appears the heavenly host. Something this great cannot go unannounced. They herald his coming with praise:
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14; NIV)
The announcement is made, but why here? This is not the seat of power. These are not the lords of the earth. This is a field. These are shepherds! Everything is upside down!
Grace has a way of doing that – turning things upside down. It visits the unworthy with majesty. It happened to shepherds on the night of Christ’s birth, and it happens today to people like you and me. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” (1 Corinthians 3:16) How can such a thing be?
In Christ God has visited us. In Christ he redeems a world gone astray. The gift is for all who by grace will receive it, and to them is promised an inheritance of glory. Majesty for the unworthy, indeed!
And grace continues to turn things upside down, for the lowly become messengers of glory. The shepherds find their sign in a stable and become heralds of the Savior themselves. Through their lips pass the announcement of angels! Can we who have also been visited by majesty become anything but the same?
Grace to you this Christmas season. May you be visited by majesty.