8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
Commentary: Again the angelic messengers lead with “Be not afraid”, the root for fear being the same as “phobia”. Of course, just the light appearing so suddenly in the midst of a dark night in the fields (no light pollution in first century Israel) would be enough to engender fear. But the news is shocking, too; the Savior is born! But the next phrase, familiar as it is to us, particularly after the previous scene with Mary, must have been a real poser. A baby? Swaddled like every other newborn, and in a feed trough, not a palace? As uneducated as these shepherds probably were, even they knew that the coming of the Messiah was supposed to be a grand event. What kind of sign was this?
To Ponder: When have you been surprised by news? When has light broken into your life? What good news do you need to hear today?