“And there were shepherds abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night.” (Luke) These shepherds, common men with dust on their sandals, found the baby Jesus lying in a manger. They knelt before him in soil blanketed with hay and maybe manure.
Moving on 30 years or so, we find Jesus at the start of his adult ministry. “And the Word was made flesh and pitched his tent among us.” (John) He gathers around him fishermen, another group of common people who provide food for their neighbors. Jesus and his friends roam the countryside, with dust on their sandals, preaching the good news.
In Wickenburg, who are the 21st-century shepherds? Cowboys, keeping watch over cattle, not sheep, providing us with food: steaks, ribs, roast beef, burgers. Joining us today, Jesus sits by a campfire amidst cowboys on the range, with dust on their boots. “The Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Matthew) Like his friends, Jesus wears a cowboy hat on that head for protection from sun and rain.
Let us celebrate the cowboy hat as symbol of the common people, shepherds, fishermen, carpenters, craftsmen, cowboys, and other workers who kneel in the sacred soil before Jesus of Nazareth.