As usual, the passage can be read here.
For many, these verses bring thoughts of Nativity Plays with little boys playing the shepherds and little girls the angels. As with much of the Christmas story, I suspect the reality to be something quite different. Shepherds lived on the margins of society, the fact they were spending their nights in the open air probably tells us something. They would have often been ceremonially unclean as a result of their work which would have excluded them from worship at the temple. Even at the very beginning, the life of Jesus reached out to the marginalised and the outcasts.
The words; ‘I bring you good news’, are from one Greek word; ‘euaggelizo’, which is translated elsewhere as ‘preach the gospel’ or ‘announce the good news’. It’s news that brings great joy and is for all people. ‘Today’, indicates the urgency, the child is ‘born to you’, he is one of us, a human being, yet he is ‘Christ’, the anointed one, he is the Lord, ‘kyrios’, meaning master or ruler, a title given to God the Father (as in verse 10 twice) and wonderfully, he is a Saviour, one who saves.
The shepherds must have been floundering trying to take in the words of the angel when suddenly there is great company of the heavenly host praising God. Heaven and earth are blessed, there is peace for people on earth and God is glorified in the highest. It’s like a window into heaven.
There are great responses from the shepherds and from Mary. The shepherds not only heard the great news they acted upon it. They went to Bethlehem, when they had seen him (Jesus is the focal point even as a baby), they spread the word to anyone who would listen and they praised God for all he had done. ‘Mary treasured up all these things in her heart’, she took it all in.
Lord we thank you for the good news that Jesus brings, that your favour rests on human beings and that we can have peace with you. Help us Lord to act upon your word as the shepherds did and treasure your truth in our hearts.