And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10–12)
So spoke the angel to the huddled, surprised and fearful shepherds. Their’s was a hard enough occupation. Sheep had to be fed and watered, wild animals had to be chased off. They would sleep under the stars in makeshift enclosures, and wander far from the villages as they cared for their flock. The threat of violent sheep rustlers was ever-present, and it wasn’t a job with a particularly high social status.
And now this. Angels thronging the heavens, and a divine message about a saviour.
But note this: these angels were addressing the shepherds. They were not giving them a message to pass along, but this message of “good news” was brought to them: “I bring you good news…”. Christ the Lord is born for them: “for unto you is born this day…”. The baby in the swaddling clothes is for them: “and this will be a sign for you…”. A sign to inspire faith.
The birth at Bethlehem was not simply a remote event, a quirk of history. Its consequences extended to shepherds on a remote hillside and wise men in a far away country. It was a fulfilment of prophecies a millennium old, and affects us two millennia on.
If you understand Christmas to be simply a historic event, or something which only concerns others then hear the voice of those angels: “I bring to you good news”.