If Jesus Was Born in Tucson

Andy Littleton
5 min readNov 30, 2022

Excerpt from “Exalted & Filled” at Mission Church — 12/19/21

This is a modified portion of a sermon I remember well and look back upon fondly. I was encouraged to capture and share this portion by a member of our church. I hope you enjoy this imagined scenario. To listen to the whole sermon CLICK HERE.

When considering the Christmas story it is important to ask; who receives Jesus? The answer, according to Mary the Mother of Jesus is; the humble. We see this in verses 52–53 of this first Christmas Song found in Luke 1.

He has…”exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.”

Clearly this isn’t just spiritual metaphor. “Humble” doesn’t merely stand for an inward sense of neediness. When it says “the rich he has sent away empty” it means people who are also externally wealthy. God really does have a strong disposition toward those with real need. Mary is an example of such a humble recipient but another comes to mind in the Christmas story, and that is the shepherds on the hills outside of Bethlehem.

This may not strike us the same today and in our context. Today we feel like farming and being a “maker” is more honorable. Therefore, most likely, shepherding would be more honorable in our modern minds. It’s an excellent way to build a YouTube following. It honestly requires a lot of privilege to be able to run a farm. It requires business know-how, connections, and resources. But in their day the shepherd was fairly low class.

Their job was saturated in potential uncleanliness. Not just externally, but spiritually. They were always around dung, and animal carcasses. The Bible connects external uncleanliness to internal spiritual need for cleansing. These shepherds may have been in a near-constant state of being unable to enter places of worship.

Today, perhaps, their situation would have been more like being a fast food worker. I’ve been there. I grew up in a trailer park. I worked at McDonald’s and Taco Bell. You may say, “Oh, I like you, once worked fast food and I appreciate all ‘essential workers.’” But I’m going admit something right now. Even though, as I have told you, I have worked in fast food, I have looked down on our brothers and sisters in the fast food industry.

When I worked at Taco Bell I got a talk about not working hard from a superior, and, to my absolute shame, I said something like, ”Why would I take advice from you?” Why? Because she was kind of a life-long employee. She hadn’t been in fast food as a stepping stone type of job. This was her career. I saw myself as being there temporarily, and I wasn’t looking to her for advice. I didn’t want to be like her.

You may cringe, as I do now, hearing what I said to her. But, be honest, there’s some people out there…you wouldn’t say it…but you WOULD NOT respect their advice. That was shepherds. See, it wasn’t just because of their job. It was how that was looked upon in society. Dirty, sure, but more importantly…less respectable. Here’s how you know you respect somebody; It’s if you would take their advice.

With that in mind, imagine late Christmas Eve around 11pm. Many, if not most of us, Tucsonans are cozy in our homes. We might be wrapping some last minute gifts, sipping hot cocoa, catching some last minute YouTube videos, or reading a book. Around then a group of workers get out from…not Chick-Fil-A or In-N-Out Burger…but down the street here at Carl’s Jr and El Beto. I’m talking about Campbell and Broadway. They bump into the deli workers and incoming late night shelf stockers over at Safeway (who are just showing up to work!) at the bus stop.

One of them lights up the cigarette they really can’t afford…and cracks open some late night leftover potato wedges (because there always some of those left at the end of shift), and they pass them around them and sit down together to wait for the bus. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appears and bright light surrounds them. Because, you know, these folks are simple-minded enough to believe something like this. They are those working class evangelicals. And they start freaking out and scrambling for their phones.

And the angel says; “Hey…relax. Today over in the Spanish Trail Suites, you know, down there by I–10 and 4th Ave, a Savior has been born, who is Christ the Lord. You’ll know you’ve found him because he’ll be wrapped in an old fitted sheet and sleeping in a bathtub.”

And as they sit there completely confused, suddenly, it’s as if the sky is parted like a stage curtain. A multitude of glorious heavenly beings are singing as beautifully as the choir performing downtown at the music hall.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

And they look at each other, taking in the fact that they must mean them. And the angelic hosts slowly depart. One of them says; “So…you want to go check that out?” And they all just nod at one another and start walking over to the bus stop on the other side of the road, to head south.

As it turns out, they are the first people to be invited to see Jesus, and they find exactly what they were told they would. Immediately after they took it all in they left and started texting all their friends. Their friends were really unsure what to think of the whole thing and assumed they’d just been hallucinating.

— —

That’s probably more of the feeling Theophilus would have had, reading Luke’s account of the birth of Christ, and hearing that God showed the shepherds first! It’s sweet. But it’s VERY unexpected. The lowest, the unrespected, were EXALTED. The humble were filled. The rich and privileged were not looped in at all that night.

“He has exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.”

Who does Jesus come to? The humble.

Andy Littleton co-pastors Mission Church in Tucson, AZ. He also co-owns a retail store and serves as a mission leader for the Christian Reformed Church. He has also written The Little Man, a travel memoir chronicling his journey to discover the power of “little” people like his quiet father while driving an Old Ford truck through small town America.

Andy Littleton

Andy is a pastor, small business owner, writer and podcaster. He and his family live in Tucson, AZ. www.andylittleton.com