The group at the Donut Shoppe had just finished hearing the story “Boaz’ Field.”
“That story reminds us,” said Pastor, “that in the first century, many pious people looked down at shepherds. Shepherds were at best on the margins of acceptable religious life; at the worst, they were considered outcasts. Whether marginal or outcast, the angel’s appearance to them is a stunning statement of God’s compassion for the outsider. It might seem that ‘proper protocol’ would be announcing the Messiah’s birth first to the Temple elite and to the politically powerful. But God had another idea. The appearance to the shepherds reminds us that the Gospel is counter-cultural; it’s a message of good news to the poor and the outsider.”
“Hey,” said Jensi, “there’s something weird about this conversation.”
“What’s that?” asked Ron.
“We’re talking about Christmas stories in the season of Lent!” replied Jensi.
Elizabeth jumped into the conversation and said, “You know, I think that’s a good thing. Hearing stories ‘out of season’ can give us a new slant on them. There is so much happening during the winter holiday/holy day season that we may give short-shrift to the Christmas stories. During the quieter days of Lent, I find myself giving more thoughtful attention to Scripture. And if we tie the shepherds’ story to the Lenten theme of repentance, I find myself asking, ‘Are there groups of people I consider less godly than others? And how can I open myself to the surprising ways in which God may act?’”
Thank you, God, for the gift of Lent. Slow us down; make us reflective; and open us always anew to your Word. Amen.