The shepherds come bursting into the story, still smelling of sheep and a bit out of place in a maternity ward – however rough and ready it might be. But they remind us that Jesus’ birth is good news for everyone – including (or even especially) those who’ve got no business being there.
It strikes me for the first time this year that since Gabriel spoke once to Mary and once to Joseph about nine months previously, apart from Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, God has been quiet. He hasn’t (so far as we’re told) sent any more messengers, or even prophetic dreams. Mary and Joseph have simply got on with what they’d been called to do, bringing Jesus to birth miles from where they’d expected. They must have wondered sometimes what was happening to them.
But that night, the shepherds burst in and their excitement bursts out – the angels are back in celebration! It’s the confirmation of what this is all about. And it’s great news for the world.