When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” – Luke 2:15 (New Revised Standard Version)
The story has been told many times in many different ways. We have seen it dramatized by children over the years. We have listened to choirs sing it. The story has been portrayed in a variety of ways by the media. One of my favorites is Linus’ rendition in “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
I have read it so many times, but as I was recently reading it in order to prepare for Christmas this year, I was struck again by the shepherds desire to go to see this thing that has taken place, that has been made known to them. On a cold dark hillside, they were told the story and as a result they were moved to experience firsthand what had been told them.
We are not shepherds. We are not magi. We are people living in a very different time and place than those in the Christmas story. But we are those to whom the angel declares, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all people…” For all people includes people of all ages, all places. For all people includes us who live a comfortable middle-class American life. For all people includes those whose homes have been destroyed by fires, hurricanes, floods and now must live in temporary shelters. For all people includes the man and woman standing at the intersection with a sign, “Out of work. Need help.” For all people includes the 1 in 5 children in our country who now live in poverty. For all people includes the young person who has experienced violence because of their sexuality. For all people includes the young woman who is made fun of because she wears hijab to school. For all people means exactly that—for ALL people. And like the shepherds, I hope that we too want to experience this good news of great joy firsthand.
May this Christmas bring new ways not only of telling the story and hearing the story, but of truly experiencing the story.