If you look up the word angel in the dictionary you're certainly not going to see my picture. I'm not sure I'm qualified to do certified, angel-type work.
I'm sure the shepherds, in Luke's account of the birth of Jesus, probably felt the same way. They were sort of among the "untouchables" of Palestinian society. Their work kept them dirty and prevented them from keeping Jewish kosher laws and observing many of the religious rituals. The closest thing to shepherds in modern-day life in the Midwest might be carnival workers. That interesting tribe of folks who move from town to town and set up the rides.
Even though I'm not qualified to be an angel, God asks me to show up every Christmas and tell the story. Explain to a room full of people what the birth of Jesus means. Some of the folks are half-asleep, still trying to recover from that second slice of pie at dinner. Some are grouchy because they have been dragged to church against their will. A few are intoxicated. And there are a few who are leaning forward on their chair, longing to hear a word from God.
This Christmas I was fighting a cold. I was tired and distracted. If I were a pitcher -and I suppose every preacher is a pitcher- this Christmas I would have told my "manager", "I don't think I have good stuff, Skipper."
So I felt off my game. Wooden. The music was astounding...beautiful... inspiring. The dancers were a delight. The Christmas video was just right. And I felt tired. Wooden. The words tumbling out of my mouth and falling to the ground. Instead of soaring what I had to say seemed to fall to the ground...nearly lifeless.
The good news, of course, is that Jesus is still born. Despite what I may feel like or the quality of my work. Jesus is still born. God still comes. Salvation has to do with the grace of an all-powerful love and is not dependent on my ability to be always "up." Always "on." Always able to bring the 90-mile fastball.
Sometimes God calls unlikely characters to carry a message. I wonder if any of the shepherds were distracted or tired. I wonder if they were feeling the cold or worrying about the sheep that had been left behind.
It's cool that they still showed up, isn't it?