I've been asked to read one of the lessons at our village Carol Service tomorrow evening - The Shepherds go to the Manger. I've always liked this part of the story - of shepherds watching their flocks - awoken by an amazing thing - it is part of the build up to the final magic of the nativity - all gathered, sheep bleating and cattle lowing around the manger. Candles and Carols and the thick stone pillars and walls of the Church create a warm surround for the images in my mind. The sculptors of old depict this part of the story at Notre Dame Cathedral, where the shepherds look totally bemused.
And more stone carving at Chartres Cathedral show the angel appearing to the shepherds. The sheep in both seem unconcerned and continue grazing.
Extraordinarily fine stone carving - Nativity sculpture at Chartres
Stone carving of The Nativity - Notre Dame
I am sure my vision of it all, the images I bring to mind, are hugely influenced by art and I wonder how I would carve my stone version of The Shepherds go to the Manger. I mustn't be too distracted by this when I'm supposed to be reading.