It’s appropriate: first responders in emergency vehicles precede anyone to disasters: when tornadoes twist, hurricanes blow and floods rage. The first to help, they give confidence. They assure the stricken that they’re not alone, that the responders represent only the first of many who CARE.
It’s incongruous: shepherds as the first audience of the first Noel—carol—ever heard. The lowliest of citizens, a step above tax collectors, perhaps two above lepers, but not the company you want to keep; who had value only as workmen, not as persons. Thought good enough to care for sheep used in temple sacrifices, they couldn’t enter temple precincts to offer them for personal forgiveness. Whose only company amounted to others like them since no one else cared to befriend them, be seen with them or trust their word.
Why would God send, not one angel, but an angelic host to those men huddled around campfires for warmth? Caring through the night for animals as helpless before predators as the men before life? To no one else in Bethlehem or Jerusalem did God offer such a testimony. Why would he entrust the first witness of his Son’s Glory to those thought least in Israel? End Part I
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