Malankara World


     A Wonderful Night: An Interpretation of Christmas

By James H. Snowden

XI. Angels and Shepherds

The Christ-child was born, and now the problem was to get the wonderful news out into the world. There were no newspapers to announce it in startling headlines and cry it out upon the morning air, and, if there had been, their reporters would not have been keen enough to discover it and probably would have had no interest in it. God used other means. An angel came from heaven to proclaim the great event to earth. Where shall he begin, what human ears shall first have the privilege of hearing the glad tidings? Let the angel go to Jerusalem, we would have said, and call upon the High Priest and first take him into his confidence, and then let him go to the Temple and stand amidst the splendors of that holy sanctuary and announce to the assembled priests and scribes that prophecy had been fulfilled and their long-expected Messiah had come. Shall not some respect be paid to official places and persons? Has not God ordained priests and presbyters through whom he dispenses his grace and administers his kingdom?

Yet history witnesses that at times few men stand in God’s way more than ecclesiastics. They are rarely the men that earliest hear a new message: God must usually tell it to some one else first. One of the most startling things in the Bible is the fact that the announcement of the birth of Christ was made, not to priests, but to shepherds, and the gospel was first preached, not in a church, but in a pasture field where there were more sheep than men to hear.

What a rebuke is this to our ecclesiastical pretension and pride! God can easily dispense with us, and may pass us by to speak to some humbler soul. The great people up in the Temple have no monopoly of his grace, and it may break out in some wholly unexpected place. The gospel is no respecter of places and persons. It may be preached in a costly church or stately cathedral, but it is equally at home in a country school house, or in a wooden tabernacle, or in a sheep pasture. In simplicity and catholicity it is adapted to all classes and conditions of life. It has the same message for priest and people, prince and peasant, scholar and shepherd, and all receive from it an equal welcome and blessing.


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