Great News of Greatest Joy

Amy-Jo Girardier

Read: Luke 2:8-20 

Nowhere To Belong

FOMO was not a term that would have made any sense to a first-century shepherd. But the concept of having a “Fear Of Missing Out” would have definitely been a reality for them. In fact, a term that would have resonated more would have been “YAMO” (You Are Missing Out). Shepherds were outcasts and marginalized in location and by occupation. They lived on the hillside outside of towns. And because of what they did as shepherds, they didn’t belong in social and religious gatherings. Yet God is His goodness would allow them to hear the great news of greatest joy.

A first-century shepherd wandered after sheep and led them to new grass and streams. Because they would live on hillsides outside of the city, shepherds lived lives away from friends and family unless they were part of a family business. After all, they lived with smelly sheep! They would have been identified immediately by their smell (if not from the way they dressed). They also not only herded the sheep, but it was also their responsibility to provide the lambs that would be used as passover sacrifices.

Great News for The Downtrodden

Being a shepherd was a tough job. And on top of the harsh realities of their occupation, they experienced “YAMO” in the religious activities of the day. They were not allowed in the synagogue or the temple because they were considered unclean people. They were the farthest from God in the eyes of the righteous religious leaders. But that was not to be forever, as things were about to change on that starry night in Bethlehem. They were about to receive great news of greatest joy!

On the night Jesus came to the earth as a baby in a manger, shepherds found themselves present at the most important celebration the world had ever seen. And it wasn’t the most powerful men or kings who were notified. It was the shepherds, the outcasts, and the marginalized who were the first to hear the good news! God sent angels to invite them to the celebration. They had no “FOMO” or “YAMO” with God. In fact, they were the ones who met Jesus face to face.

Joy for All People

The shepherds understood why Jesus was called Immanuel because God was with them. And God filled their “missing out” reality with joy. They finally had a place to belong with God. And that is the joy that we have today. This birthday party has no expiration date. And today, we can still today accept the invitation to celebrate the greatest news of all. Because the joy of the shepherds is joy for all people.

So, as you come to this week of Advent, it may be easier to examine the areas where you feel “FOMO” or “YAMO.” But remember that Jesus came to fill your “missing out” moments with a relationship with the living God. And His joy will never leave you empty.