Verse 8 from Luke 2:8-20
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
They were not well thought of, these shepherds. Sheep were the basis of the national economy. Milk, cheese, mutton, wool – a man and his family could live off of a few sheep and the Temple’s sacrifices depended on a never-ending supply. The smaller flocks were looked after the owner and his sons, but the larger flocks were looked after by hired shepherds.
And these hired shepherds weren’t like the Christmas cards. It was the hired shepherds people couldn’t stand. Dirty and smelly from spending months in the grazing hills; rough, poor men who couldn’t find better work; cowards who all too often ran from the predators that threatened the sheep. These were the shepherds.
That night they split the watch with some sleeping while others watched. The half-wild dogs that accompanied the flock and drove away the predators slept uneasily nearby and stirred and stared every time one of the shepherds moved. Occasionally a sheep would start to wander at which point a shepherd would call its name and it would return. The sheep all had names, even the ones who were going to be sent to the Temple for sacrifice.
Put yourself in the story. When have you been rejected? How does it feel? Think of yourself in the alone and the cold of those dark hills… only sheep and dogs to keep you warm.