The shepherds spread the word! Luke 2:15-18
There is a movie, the name of which I cannot remember, with a line spoken by a young boy "every time the bell rings, an angel in heaven gets his wings". This saying, assumes that all angels eventually get wings so they can fly; it's what lies behind the saying "the pilot got her wings", when she became fully certified as a pilot and the was able to fly and aircraft. However, Angels are not human beings with wings, they are Spirit beings and are not bound by physical laws. Non the less, they clearly manifest themselves in such a way that they can be seen and heard because it is their intention and responsibility to communicate the things of God with his creation. So while its unlikely that the angel who appeared to the shepherds in the country side, did so with flapping wings, it is thoroughly in keeping with the mission of the angelic being, to clearly communicate the things of God to these shepherds in the fields. Look again at the text - what is it that the shepherds go looking for? In verse 15, the shepherds decide to go to Bethlehem "to see the thing that has happened which the Lord has told us about". That's right, they are looking for a baby in a manger (vs 2, 12,) and verse 16 confirms that they found exactly what the angels spoke about. What is even more interesting is the actual words that the angel used to address the shepherds; "This will be a sign to you", because the purpose of giving this 'sign' to the shepherds, is to enable them to complete their mission. Yes, the shepherds are not simply bystanders in this heavenly encounter; they are in fact key witnesses dispatched by the angelic company to declare to others what the Lord has done through the birth of this child who has been placed in a manger.
For the shepherds, finding the baby in a manger is not evidence that what the angel said to them is real or true, because their own words in verse 15 clarify that they already believed the angelic message. No! - finding the baby in the manger was, in fact, confirmation that they had found the one who was the messiah, and having confirmed which of the numerous babies that were in Bethlehem for the census was the Messiah, they immediately 'spread the word' (vs 17) concerning what was said to them about this child - this child who was the saviour of all. From the very outset of Jesus' life on earth, he was gathering around himself, people who would become witnesses to God's redemptive purpose and process. The Lord used average people to make known his salvation activity. As you reflect on this reading today, how is God directing you and how is he preparing you to engage in his mission purpose? What have you seen and heard of King Jesus, that needs to be shared with others around you? How might you 'spread the word' in these days leading up to Christmas day this year.