Have you ever wondered how the shepherds found Jesus? The angels had only given them a single clue: a swaddled newborn in a feed trough. Bethlehem was full of strangers that night, travellers from elsewhere. But labor is not a quiet process, and everybody would have known about the teenaged mom that gave birth in a barn. If the shepherds hadn’t already heard about it through small-town gossip, a few minutes of asking around would lead them to the right place.
What did they expect to find? Surely not a scene of great majesty, given the clue they were chasing. And what they did find was simple enough: a new teenaged mother, exhausted from labor, her not-quite-husband (bit of a scandal there, no doubt the talk of the town), and a baby, wrapped up and deposited in a feed trough.
Had we asked the shepherds a day earlier what the birth of their Messiah would be like, I doubt any of them would have predicted this. How vulgar. How…blasphemous, even. It is the first of many offenses yet to come. But the shepherds couldn’t shut up about what they’d seen and heard. They told everybody, and departed rejoicing and praising God.
And so should we.