There is nothing in Luke’s account of that wonderful night to suggest that the shepherds in their fields were expecting the amazing events that unfolded. In fact, there’s nothing that even hints that they had been filled with faithful anticipation about the coming Messiah. I’m almost certain that none of them looked at the rest of them that morning and said, “You know, boys, I’ve got a powerful feeling that something really awesome is going to happen tonight. I think this is going to be it! You know what the prophets say and there’s Bethlehem just right over there…”
I think it’s more likely that one of them said, “That cantankerous ole ewe nearly crippled one of my best lambs yesterday. Boys, I’m thinking ‘ewe stew’ is on the menu tonight… or maybe ‘ole ewe barbecue’…”
Whether or not anything like that unfolded, I know that these men of no social esteem were simply doing what they usually did. Living in the fields, tending to the sheep, keeping watch over the flocks. As a result of God’s good grace and their duty to the ordinary of their lives, they witnessed one of the most extraordinary events in history. A bright light shone about them, an angel spoke to them, and then a multitude of the heavenly host appeared and shouted news of the Son of God. Post haste, they headed into town and soon found the newborn Baby of Heaven wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.
They brought no gifts of gold, frankincense or myrrh, nothing of earthly value. What they brought was true worship, genuine adoration and intense wonder and joy. They found the baby, gave their testimony and went back to their fields. Back to doing what they do, not seeking the glorious events of the world, not desiring some transcendent fame or fortune, just living the life they had been given.
But I’m pretty sure that life was never quite the same after that.