Annunciation to the Shepherds

Luke 2:8-12   And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.  And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

In the left panel, the scene is laid against a starlit early morning sky.  A few distant buildings are seen beyond a rocky landscape.  A tree frames the left panel where a few sheep lazily graze.

In the center panel, the purple-tinged wings and eerie blue garment of a full-sized angel, restate the nighttime setting.  Holding a palm branch at his right side, the angel raises his left hand and points toward heaven, as if summoning an angel choir. 

Three shepherds in the right panel respond to the angel’s message in three different ways.  The re-robed figure stands with a staff in his left hand, while he raises his right arm over his head to shield his eyes from the brightness of the angel’s raiment.  The second shepherd, in brown, is kneeling toward the angel but looking downward.  We see the back of a third shepherd, in blue, who seems to be sitting on his heels, with head bowed toward the angel.

The posture of the shepherds suggests wonder, reverence and submission, responses that have become universal among those who hear and heed the good news of the Gospel.

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