A poet once imagined that
the shepherds at Bethlehem
undoubtedly taught the three
Oriental kings how to kneel
at the manger. I think not!
Those kings were wise ones
who surely would have known
courtly ways and manners.
I propose that the shepherds,
surprised by angel song
and curious beyond belief,
sought out the manger
where the babe was cradled –
Mary and Joseph standing by.
Instead of kneeling down, they
probably asked to pick him up
then held him to their hearts,
caring not a whit in that smelly
shed about their burlap shirts
or the animals that milled about.
The other seekers, royally robed,
guided by prophecy and a star
to places yet unknown, were eager
to bow low and present the gifts
they’d brought to the infant king.
They knelt in the royal presence.
The humble shepherds stood tall
for they’d been favoured by angels.
—Ruth Naylor is a retired pastor, ordained in Mennonite Church USA, who works as a spiritual director. She has taught English and creative writing, and has published numerous poems and several articles.