Shepherds were 'abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night'.They didn't see a star but were led by angels to the place where the baby lay.
The shepherds may have been young, but they would have been ‘weathered’ - no smooth skin for them as they spent days and nights in the rocky ‘fields’ ( more likely hills) around Bethlehem. They probably sheltered in caves or under rocky outcrops and they were always on the lookout for the sheep that had gone astray. They had to be ready to fight to save their sheep. The photographs here are of the area known as the Shepherds' Fields just outside modern Bethlehem where the glass dome of the church allows in the kind of light that surprises and made me think of the light brought by the angels. Nearby a cave has been excavated - much more cramped but much more like the existence the shepherd would have known: it might, at least have provided some shelter from the wind and rain.
No doubt the shepherds' hands would have been rough and strong.
Catherine and Alistair Stevenson of St. Gabriel's church in Sheffield , consider how OUR hands have been used differently this year: and how we might want to use them this Christmas time.You can download the text by clicking the .pdf to the right of the movie.