Where are we going? Come and see.
Didn’t you see the sky light up just to the south? Just a two leagues down the road toward Tekoa.
I tend my sheep with a band of shepherds. We migrate from hillside to valley all around Jerusalem. My home is further north near Bethel, but we move our flocks often, always looking for the best pastures.
Our flock numbers about six hundred this time of year. In a few short months we will be selling off the best of them to the temple merchants for Passover. Meanwhile we have to keep them out of trouble. If they’re injured, or marred in any way, the temple merchants won’t buy them. We get a much better price for the lambs used for sacrifice than we would from those who want their wool, and even less from the butchers.
Some despise shepherds, or simply mock us. Some consider us lower than slaves. Often I receive less honor than the sheep I tend. But not tonight! I am still working through it in my mind.
Have you ever stepped out of total darkness, a cave or windowless stable, into the full light of day? That’s what it was like tonight as we set our nightly watch.
Of course it’s rarely completely dark on the Judean hillside. The Almighty One set such an array of lights in the sky. Sometime I think He did it just for us shepherds. As I look into the stars, I remember God’s promise to Father Abraham. God told him to count the stars. I’ve tried that. The longer I look, the more seem to appear.
Even though the night was clear, moon shining and stars in their full glory, the brightness that lit the hillside washed it all away. It was brighter than the full sun of noonday. You can image the terror I felt. I was fully awake, part of me ready to fight and part of me ready to run.
A man stood in the midst of the field and called to us.
“Don’t be afraid.”
That’s easy for Him to say, but I began moving closer.
“I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide:”
With every step toward this being, I sensed peace. This is not danger. I don’t know what it is, but it’s not danger.
“A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”
David’s town? He must be talking about Bethlehem, where King David was born, that shepherd turned King of Israel.
At that, the brightness that surrounded us started to materialize into an army of angels, thousands on every side. No – not an army – a choir. The hillside rang out with the all the voices of heaven singing,
“Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.”
And then it was dark, all but one light to the north.
Now I know the stars, and this was new. It looked as though the heavenly host that surrounded us minutes before had moved up to Bethlehem.
That’s where we’re now. Won’t you come and see this Messiah, this Savior with us?
If you missed the other Friday Fiction Christmas posts check them out here: