from http://rtw.soc.srcf.net/sheep.jpg

He came out of nowhere.

We were keeping watch over our herds, making sure that no sheep were missing and that nothing got to them. All kinds of things lurk in the night, wild cat, wolves, and bandits, unseen dangers as the sheep walked about in the dark. It’s our job to protect them. Every evening we counted the sheep to make sure they were all accounted for. It is very tempting not to fall asleep on the job. However, there was to be no sleeping on that night.

Out of the blue, a man appeared among us in a flash of bright white light. He seemed to be speaking directly to us. “Do not fear,” he told us, “I bring good news that will be for all the people.” It was hard not to fear, but the good news was more confusing. “The Savior, the Messiah, has been born in the city of David.” That got our attention. Four Hundred years we had waited for something like this, for someone to finally rescue us from the Romans. The man gave us directions and what to look for.

We sensed that we were surrounded by something, having lived in the wild with our flocks. At that moment we could see and hear what surrounded us. None of us had ever heard such beautiful music, nor will any of us hear it again in our lifetimes singing praises to Yahweh.

As quickly as it had happened, it was all over. The light vanished and the hillsides went back to the darkness of night. That night all of us took off for Bethlehem, the City of David. We felt there was no other option but to investigate what the man whom we know knew was no ordinary man but an angel of the LORD. We left our flocks, not worried about their safety, somehow sensing that they would be protected in our absence.

When we went to Bethlehem, what we found was not what we were expecting. We did not find a babe in stately room with servants and the like, but a babe lying in a stone manger, in a cave surrounded by his parents and all sorts of livestock. The babe seemed to glow that night in his mother’s arms.

His parents, again not what we expected. They were a young newlywed couple, obviously not of royalty as we expected; the father’s hands looked calloused, like those of a skilled laborer not the soft hands of the upper class who had never had a hard day’s work in his life. The Mother, a young girl not yet out of her teens.

We returned to the fields that night in joyous celebration, stopping everyone we came across what we had seen and heard that night. Some believed our story; others we could tell were debating our credibility. After all, we are shepherds second lowest in society’s eyes, right next to the tax collectors.

If this child was indeed the long awaited Messiah, then Yahweh must have a sense of humor. A baby, save the world, delivers his people from their agony? How? It’s such a strange way to do so, but who are we to question Yahweh? The creator of the universe, the one who led us to freedom from Egypt, Saved his people through Esther’s courage. Yahweh has a plan, albeit a strange one, but a plan for the good of all humanity.

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