Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Modern day Shepherds

Given that the Advent Season starts this Sunday, I thought it might be fitting to connect to a story from UMNS concerning a modern day shepherd. Although his method of tending his flock is very different from the time of Christ's birth, there are still similarities:

In Jesus’ day, shepherds were not generally on the guest list to see a newborn king.

Their work, however, was essential. Sheep were important sources of milk, meat and wool, and were also an essential part of Jewish worship at the temple in Jerusalem.
Nevertheless, shepherding itself was a dirty and at times lonely job, United Methodist scholars point out. Shepherds were peasants who could not support themselves from the land and had to work as hired hands.

“In fact, many would have regarded shepherds as ritually unclean, especially if they were involved not only in wool gathering, but in slaughtering animals and tanning hides,” says the Rev. Ben Witherington III, a blogger at Beliefnet.com and New Testament professor at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky.

“Bethlehem was the ancient equivalent of the stockyards in Kansas City. It was where the sheep were raised and kept to be sent off to slaughter six miles up the road in Jerusalem.”
The angels’ annunciation to humble shepherds is very much in keeping with Mary’s pronouncement earlier in Luke that God has lifted up the lowly, says the Rev. Richard Hays, the dean of Duke Divinity School and a New Testament professor.

One of the themes of Luke’s Gospel is divine reversal. “Luke is showing that no person is considered beneath the Messiah's dignity, and all should celebrate his coming for as Luke says — he is the savior of the world,” Witherington adds.

Read the entire article here....

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