The Contentment of Shepherds – Contentvent 4

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Contentvent #4: Contentment with who we are – like the Shepherds


One peculiarity of the Christmas story is the cast of characters.

If we examine any random manger scene (which odds are, is probably within a few meters of you right now) we see the same characters. See them so much, that we have forgotten the significance of who they are – and who they aren’t.

Joseph, we seem to be introduced to only because he is engaged to Mary. Otherwise, he is merely a manual laborer from a small town in rural Palestine, and we no essentially nothing else about him.

Mary is a teenage girl who doesn’t appear to have anything significant about her before the story picks up.

There are some farm workers, who drew the short straw and had to work the night shift watching over grazing sheep.

The Magi / Wise Men are the only ones in the nativity story who are educated (scientists -which in that day included astrology) with respectable jobs (probably trusted advisors to the King they served). However, they likely don’t come for at least 40 days (and many say ~2 years) later. So for sure, they were not there – at the manger that night.

We need to re-examine the nativity scene we think we know so well.

It’s full of poor, uneducated, rural, young.

So what?

The arrival of Jesus was a surprise to every human on earth (except Mary and Joseph, and a few others close to them)

But who played a role in that scene – who was present?

God plucked shepherds out of obscurity and they became individuals portrayed in more art than any king or emperor.

There was Joseph who, through no doing of his own, became a key player in the story of God coming to earth. He was busy working as a carpenter, thinking about getting married and starting a family. Suddenly his name gets coupled to the event that literally changed human history.

There is a young, unwed, pregnant girl. Whose identity is now synonymous with yielding faith, and whose name millions of Catholics and others have recited every day for several millennia.


What did they do to deserve to become key players in God’s movement of history?

Nothing really.

They were just living their lives, and they were obedient when called.

That for me is the Contentment of Advent.

We don’t have to struggle to be used by God.

We don’t have to hustle our way into his plan

We don’t have to figure out how to be a part of his movement.

He will use us. As we are. Where we are. Who we are.

Our task – like Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds – is to be willing to listen and respond.


What are you trying to do – to become – to get – to accomplish —SO THAT God can use you?

Think about where you are right now. How much more influence do you have than the shepherds? How much more education, and resources than Joseph? How much more of the story do you know than Mary?

What can you do RIGHT NOW – TODAY – to respond to God’s call?

What can you do NOW – to play your part in His story?


God with us,
I don’t understand why you choose to work through the people you do.
I don’t even know why you want to include me,
or how.
But I trust that you do.
Give me ears to hear what you are calling me to,
and eyes to see the needs,
that are right around me,
right where I am
right now.
Exactly as I am.
I trust that your story is big enough to include people like
Mary, and Joseph, and the shepherds,
and me.