Lectionary: Christmas Day
Sermon text: Luke 2:1-20
Excerpt: The Christmas story. So well known it has become a part of the fabric of the American consciousness. Linus Van Pelt, with his little blanket, in the spotlight, reciting this passage, so that even those who would never darken the door of a church hear it every year. What’s interesting is that we don’t think about Luke and the writers of the other gospels made choices about what to include. There’s no Christmas story in Mark. There’s no Christmas story in John. Matthew even skips ahead until he’s two years old when the Magi, the wise men, come to visit him at the house where they lived. Luke is the one who details the birth. And this very peculiar occurrence of angels appearing to shepherds.
Angels in their appearance and annunciation happen all around the birth of Christ. We’re told this in Luke and other gospels that angels appear to Zechariah, who was John’s father, they appear to Joseph to tell him not to put Mary away, an angel appears to Mary to tell her that she is going to have a child. All of which makes a degree of sense. These are, after all, the parents of these prophesied children who are involved in this.
But Luke tells us that angels appeared to shepherds. What qualified them to have angels appear?
Matthew tells us that a star appeared to the Magi, to the wise men in the east and they came to find the child who would be king, that their learning told them that this star was a sign that a king would be born. So there’s their qualifications. But shepherds?