We all know this Christmas pageant story and we know that the shepherds found the face of salvation in a manger. I often imagine the story is told this way because it was the one place where the shepherds would have felt comfortable – in a stable, with the smell of fresh hay filling their nostrils, with the sounds of the donkeys braying and cows mooing, and sheep bleating, and the animals would have known them. If Jesus had been born in the temple, the shepherds would never have been able to go in, for they were considered impure. But a stable, amidst the animals, the earthy real place of their lives, works for them. I think this is actually one of the most important parts of the story. Hope showed up for these men in a package, in a particular situation, that they could understand and know. That is how God works, showing up to us exactly where we are.