Then the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this amazing thing about which we have been told.”

They went quickly into Bethlehem where they found Mary and Joseph and the baby just as they had been told. They shared the story of their experience out in the fields and everyone was amazed at what the shepherds said.

It is a bit ludicrous – shepherds trekking into a village looking for a baby because they have seen a bunch of angels singing glory to God. I imagine that indeed “everyone was amazed at what the shepherds said” and that many who heard may have thought the shepherds had been too long out in the fields abiding.

But, apparently shepherds were beyond caring what people thought. Shepherds lived beyond most of the norms of social convention and were accustomed to existing on the margins of polite society. They did not have much to lose.

I, on the other hand, have a reputation to protect, a position to preserve, my dignity to uphold – too bad for me.

My determination to maintain appearances means that I risk missing out on the gift the shepherds received. I am at danger of overlooking the surprising work of the Divine in the world because I cling so hard to how things look and what others may think.

The key to receiving the gift the shepherds experienced is that they were willing to be guided. They were willing to put aside what seemed to make sense and what might seem proper and to launch out boldly into the unknown in search of the truth they had vaguely intuited from heavenly messengers.

Advent challenges me to keep my heart open to the unexpected guidance of God’s Spirit. Advent invites me to follow the unpredictable path, laying aside my needs, demands, and expectations of how things ought to be.

My willingness to trust that small voice that guides me to deep truth enables me to experience the miracle of Christ’s birth in my own heart.