WHILE SHEPHERDS WATCHED THEIR FLOCKS BY NIGHT …
at least they were supposed to be watching their flocks!
You see, it was dark on the hillside and we were glad to finally rest after a hard day of roaming the area looking for grass to eat. Our shepherds had had their dinner and were also resting. They usually take it in turns to sleep while one keeps watch for our safety. It’s always a comforting feeling knowing that they are keeping an eye out for us. The nights are full of sheep-dangers around here.
Tonight they seemed very quiet and were talking a lot between themselves, probably about the huge star that had appeared over Bethlehem. Most unusual. Not one of our usual collection of night lights.
Then suddenly, without warning, this heavenly being appeared out of nowhere, and we were nearly blinded by the light that surrounded it. Our shepherds were terrified. Now, hey, they’re our protectors. If they’re terrified you can’t even begin to imagine how we felt. We all huddled closely together, pushing and shoving, trying to get a good look at what was going on.
Then this heavenly being said for all to hear, “Don’t be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you: he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
As if that wasn’t enough of an upheaval, next thing a great host of angels appeared in the sky, saying “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests.” Then, just as quickly as they appeared, they were gone, and the sky was dark once again.
I can tell you it was pretty scary, although I must say the singing was of a pretty high standard. I just wish we could sing like that! Our bleating doesn’t even nearly come up to scratch.
Now I don’t know about you, but in our neck of the woods there’s nothing special about a baby being born. It happens every day. And it certainly doesn’t warrant a whole angelic host singing in the sky. So there must be something spectacular about this one for all this fuss and carry on. What did the angel say … a Saviour – Christ the Lord? Hmmm.
Next thing our shepherds started talking to each other, and we heard them say, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has told us about.” And then, without a backward glance, off they went in a great hurry, without so much as a goodbye or a “how’s your uncle.” So much for our protection. I can tell you right now, we were pretty nervous and vulnerable. This was quite out of character for our shepherds. It came right out of left field, as it were.
After what seemed like hours, they finally returned and boy were they hyped up! They couldn’t stop talking about what they had seen and heard. Apparently it was just like the angels had described it. There was this new-born baby lying in a manger with people kneeling down, worshipping him, and giving him gifts. Our normally reticent shepherds had been telling everyone they came across about this wonderful event. Now that’s a miracle in itself! Usually you can’t get a peep out of them when strangers are around.
Ah well. I suppose they will settle down eventually. But I can tell you it’s a night I won’t forget in a hurry. For us perhaps, nothing much has changed. But I have a feeling that things won’t ever be the same for our shepherds. It seems they have seen the glory of God in the face of a child. A child that they say is going to change the world forever. Time will tell, I guess.