Today, the poor are often excluded from active participation in society’s big events. We lookd at one example from the Olympics already, but there was also a recent study that hits a bit closer to come. Regular commuting to work negatively affects civic engagement, unless you have a certain threshold of income.
I once did a survey where we asked, “Why don’t people go to church?” One woman told me, “I can’t come to church because i haven’t got enough money.” It broke my heart – no one should ever think church, a Christian community of learners, has tuition fees. But she did, and was excluded as a result!
The story of Christmas shows the poor in key roles, not just Mary and Joseph, but some shepherds:
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. (Luke 2:8-20)
These shepherds were not the farmers we envision today. These shepherds spent 24/7 with their sheep, even sleeping outside. This was physical, taxing, nomadic work. Yet they play a key role – they are the first outsiders to acknowledge who he is. They are the first to provide third party Confirmation for Mary and Joseph – this was no strange dream – this was really happening. Then they are the first to tell the story to others.
We all have a role to play in God’s plan, story, and our bank balance is no barrier. Our worldly skills are no barrier. Our history is no barrier. There is a barrier, but God has dealt with it, as we’ll see tomorrow.
Question: Why might God choose poor or financially precarious people for such key roles in his story? What does it communciate? How would the story be different if God had chosen wealthy parents and visitors?
Reminder: We are reading the Bible in sync as one community – so check out today’s reading here.Read the Bible in Sync Today