Unclean are welcome!

Christmastime is here. This is a season of joy because Jesus has come, and he has come to us. What we are told about Jesus’ birth is meant to put an exclamation point on that truth.  Jesus came to rich and poor, to the clean and the unclean, to Israel and to the Gentiles. First, I think of the shepherds.  Despite the beautiful Old Testament images of “the Lord is my Shepherd,” by the time of Jesus shepherds were considered unclean.  Why?  They became known for pasturing their flocks wherever they wanted. Imagine discovering that precious grass on your land you reserved for your own animals had become yesterday’s meal for another man’s flock!  Apparently, this was common, so common in Israel that by the time of Jesus, the rabbis considered shepherds unclean.  Add to this the fact that shepherds were uneducated types and what today would be considered lower class.  Mary and Joseph might well have been expected to send them away. The shepherds themselves no doubt wondered if they’d be welcome.

ssAll of this adds to the surprise that the angel appeared to them to begin with. God knew the obstacles for the shepherds. The angel told them that they would find the baby swaddled with strips of cloth.  This was the way the poor in Israel wrapped their children.  Furthermore, they would find the baby lying in a manger.  These were signs the shepherds would welcome.  We know the shepherds were warmly received by Mary and Joseph.  The shepherds left with joy praising God for all that happened.

The message seems clear.  If the shepherds, those considered unclean, were welcome at the manger, certainly we will be as well.  As Ken Bailey has said:

The unclean were judged to be clean. The outcasts became honored guests.  The song of the angels was sung to the simplest of them all.

This means there is room at the manger for me and you!

3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Cathy Ruiz on December 5, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Funny thing about the swaddling of babies…i and my siblings were swaddled as babies..I guess that means we were poor??!! 🙂


  2. Magnificent website. A lot of useful information here.
    I am sending it to some buddies ans also sharing in delicious.
    And obviously, thank you for your effort!


  3. Posted by Sandy on February 15, 2017 at 8:11 pm



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: