Joseph and Mary, traveling with their donkey.
The Innkeeper and his wife, who allowed use of their stable out back.
Shepherds and their sheep, in awe at the angel's message to them.
As I listened to these shepherds tell their story, I saw a piece I had never noticed before. Their awe was first because of the news itself, but secondly because God had chosen them to be the first ones to hear. As one shepherd said to us, "He chose us to hear the news first! Nobody ever chooses us for anything."
Shepherds were the forgotten ones. Like when Samuel came to the house of Jesse to anoint a king, and had to ask if there were any more sons . . .
Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”
So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.
Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.” 1 Samuel 16:10-12
I get the impression that shepherds weren't exactly the first people to be told when something exciting was happening.
In this spectacular moment, God decided that the shepherds in the field would get the birth announcement first, instead of them being forgotten and hearing the news later in the city streets.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:8-12
Nobody ever chose them for anything.
That night, God chose them. After that, nothing mattered.
God also chose me. Before the foundation of the world. . . He chose me. . . and I don't think I'm ever going to get over that.
For he chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. Ephesians 1:4-8a
I will forever live in awe that He chose me to belong to Him...and that He sent his son, Jesus, the good Shepherd, to this earth to die on the cross for my sins, so through the blood and by His grace alone I can spend eternity with Him. That is the beautiful Christmas story.