If Mark’s Gospel is a bit, well, sparse about the birth of Jesus (it isn’t mentioned at all), and Mattew’s Gospel is a bit dull (lists of names going on an on, and then ‘BTW, saviour born during the night’), what about Luke? Sometimes known as the social Gospel, or the equality Gospel, the description of Jesus’ birth in chapter 2 is no exception: While Matthew describes the visit of the foreign politicians (or whatever the modern equivalent of magi would be), Luke has a different set of characters.
There’s some holy wise people (similar to Matthew) who encounter Jesus, but the difference here is that Simeon is ancient- this is the really old boy in the corner of the cafe, or the one who’s been in your church since before it was built… and the second person is Anna, the prophetess. Woah!! that sounds like a lady’s name… not only is she a prophet, but also she’s the one that God chooses to speak through in this instance, and Luke just loves it… but note, he doesn’t ever make a big deal about the way that God deals with people evenhandedly- its always implicit in the text.
But I’m going off the point. The real heroes for me in Luke chapter 2 aren’t Simeon and Anna, its the shepherds. Now, whether you go the whole nine yards and declare that shepherds were the scum of the Judean earth (I’m not convinced on that one- where they worse than swineherds or cattle farmers? Sheep are a lot less stinky than some animals), or whatever, you can’t deny that the shepherds were very definitely not at the top of the pecking order- you can’t really even say that the angels appeared to them because they were awake (oh, so now angels can’t wake people up or appear in their dreams?). Luke presents this event as a simple description- this is what happened, God wanted these shepherds, these normal working folk who were living out their normal grind, to be the first people on earth to know that the Messiah, his Son, had been born. And that says something about how God rates work.
Jesus didn’t come to heal the healthy, he came for the sick, he came to bring light into darkness, and he came to bring salvation to the people of this world who work so hard that they can barely stop to consider who God is. God spoke into the workplace, and those who heard the message responded with joy.