12. Jesus has his first visitors.

When a new baby is born, everyone wants to visit. People bring gifts and they take photographs. When Jesus was a baby some of the first visitors to meet him were these young guys who looked after sheep for a living. Some of them stayed in the fields to make sure the sheep were okay, and a group of them travellled into Bethlehem to find this baby that the angels told them about. 
This is a photograph of a painting of the shepherds.
In this photograph the shepherd is an older man. Can
you see how he carries the little lamb safe on his shoulders?

They would have been a bit smelly. They lived out in the fields, with sheep for company. No showers, no soap and probably no change of clothes. But that doesn’t matter to God. You see, the Christmas story is full of people who weren’t famous or great leaders or seen as important. That’s what make it so amazing. God sent angels to tell the shepherds about the saviour of the world. Not Herod, not Augustus. Shepherds. 

Do you think the shepherds played music for baby Jesus?

They whisper quietly as they enter the room. There in the corner is Mary and Joseph and there sleeping in the feeding trough is the baby. Just an ordinary baby. Jesus doesn’t have a shining halo. He has brown skin and dark curly hair. He cries like other babies. He needs his nappy changed like other babies. And he is God. 

The shepherds know this. They kneel down in the hay in front of Jesus. And they tell Jesus’ mum and dad about the angels. Mary and Joseph are pretty surprised, but they understand. Angels visited them too. 

Long after the shepherds have headed back to the hills, Mary sits looking at her sleeping child. She can’t stop thinking about everything that has happened and wondering what it all means. As Jesus wakes and Mary feeds him, she looks down at him with lots of questions. When he cries and Joseph has to walk him around the room to get him to sleep, Mary is amazed by it all. What is happening? What is God doing?

And the shepherds? They run! Through the hills, among the olive trees and the rocks. They don’t even stop for a rest. They are bursting to tell the others what they have seen. And they praise God and say wonderful things about God. Everything was just as the angel had said.

I wonder if they stopped every year to remember the time they met Jesus? 
I wonder if it became a special day for them to remember? 
I wonder if they were always grateful that God chose them to be the first visitors to meet Jesus?

And I wonder if they ever stopped dancing with joy? God had come to dwell with people, and they, the shepherds got to meet him! Praise be to God!

Thank you for taking this journey with us. You can read more about Christmas in Luke and Matthew's Gospels in the Bible. Matthew even has more to say, and tells us about some other visitors who travelled to see Jesus when he was a toddler. 
Meri Kirihimete, Merry Christmas!


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