In that nativity scene stand the shepherds who visit the new born Christ Child. What is their importance, and where do they stand. For one, they share something in common with that Child as he is to be known as “the Good Shepherd.” They are shepherds and tend to the needs of their flock, they are attentive and attendants. They care for life. By trade they are humble, they care for life independent of worldly gain. Their clothing is coarse, and their approach is different from those in finer robes. Independent from a kings court or agenda, they can reach out to those in need without concern for political retribution. They maintain the ability to do what is right. In the war ravaged crèche mentioned before, the humble shepherds might be inclined to bring relief to a young family in desperate need. A bit of food, some shelter from the elements for traveling refugees struggling for life.
They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him.
The witnesses laid down their cloaks
at the feet of a young man named Saul.
As they were stoning Stephen, he called out
“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
The Christmas narrative takes a dramatic turn today, it leaves the nativity story and drastically commemorates the first Christian martyr. Saint Stephen who defends Christ. Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59 Saint Stephen, a deacon who was to bring charitable aid to the flock, stoned for challenging those of authority.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Beware of men, for they will hand you over to courts
and scourge you in their synagogues,
and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake
as a witness before them and the pagans.
The nativity starts in conflict, and that conflict continues today. To protect new and innocent life some offer assistance quietly, though frequently by placing themselves in harms way. Not the soldier, but the shepherd. The peasant accustomed to a daily struggle who watches out for another in need. In Syria today? I think so. That was Saint Stephens responsibility, as a deacon to bring care to those Christians in need. The Child in the manger, the Christ Child, needs care to live. The infant son of God is human too, in need of a humans care. Yesterday and today.