In the picture, a couple of shepherds are on the right-hand side, and one of them is playing a flute. Below them, their sheep drink in a river. One of the shepherds looks up and is blessed by an angel looking down on him. The middle group of angels is kneeling or bowing in worship before Jesus, lying in his cave, while the angels on the left of the picture stand like a choir, singing.
Only one of the four Gospels mentions the shepherds. Here they are, in Luke’s account of the Christmas story:
Luke’s Gospel has a special emphasis on the poor and disadvantaged, on people living on the margins of society. While Matthew’s Gospel focuses on the wise men who travelled from the East, Luke’s spotlight falls on these working men, who hear the news about the birth of Jesus from heaven itself.
Jesus later said, “I have come to bring good news to the poor.” The shepherds in the story remind us of God’s love for those who are forgotten and left behind in our world.
Take a few moments to be still while you’re at your computer. If it’s night-time, you could dim or turn off the lights in your room.
Read aloud, if you’re able to, these words of Jesus…
Jesus fulfilled these words in his life, in the words he said and in the way he brought healing and new life to people. Remember those in your neighbourhood who are in need this Christmas. Think practically about how you might become part of bringing good news to them.
Finish by praying this prayer…
Blessed are you
O Christmas Christ,
that your cradle was so low
poorest and simplest of earthly folk,
could yet kneel beside it,
and look level-eyed into the face of God.
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An Eastern icon of the Nativity introduces us to the main characters in the cast of Christmas: Jesus, Mary, Joseph, shepherds and angels, and the wise men. With notes, short reflections and prayers for you to follow.
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