Those picked last were first to hear the news on Christmas

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Being forced to stand in a line and be chosen for a team, only to be picked last, was one of the worst things to happen to you as a child. One by one everyone walked away until finally you heard those dreaded words: "I guess I'll take him."

Most of us reasonably survived this elementary school torture. As a child you might have eventually figured out that if you worked hard enough and got better, you might not be picked last.

As an adult you understand that the game is still played the same way.

The Christian Christmas story is full of a wide range of characters. A young girl is miraculously pregnant. Her future husband, angry and hurt, nearly divorces her. The great emperor of Rome, who reigns and lives by fear. issues a decree that the entire Roman world obeys including the girl's governors. Wealthy Eastern Magi following a star to a house bring odd gifts. And then there are the shepherds.

The gospel of Luke tells that the shepherds were in the same region, in their fields, at night watching their sheep. These men were doing their jobs, trying not to sleep while counting sheep. Shepherds of this day were outcasts. They were deemed by civilized people as untrustworthy and scoundrels. It's probable that even among shepherds there were distinctions between the day and night crew. Now picture the selection process for this job.

The head shepherd gathers them together and says, "Men, we are all considered to be untrustworthy and thieves. I'm going to chose you, you and you to work during the day. You, you and you are more of a scoundrel than the rest of us so you'll work at night."

Ironically it was to the least of the least to whom the heavens burst open. It was the lowest of the low that went to the manger to see if what they were told were true. Those picked last became the first.

The first pronouncement of the birth of the King of Kings wasn't to the rulers, the wealthy and the nobleman. It was to the least influential and most undesirable. The lord of the universe by his announcement and his arrival declared that he had come for all humanity from the least to the greatest. How much more is Christmas for you?

Rob Hurtgen is a husband, father, minister and writer. Read more from him at www.robhurtgen.wordpress.com.

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