There I was, propped up against a rock in the middle of a field, trying to stay awake at least enough to keep track of the sheep. It had been a long day. We saw a lion to the east and had to steer the flock closer to Bethlehem so it didn’t cause any trouble. Thankfully we were able to keep all the sheep accounted for by the time we were done moving them, even little Bethy. She’s quite fond of running off.
Around midnight I started to doze off. Simeon and Jacob had to keep nudging me to keep me from falling asleep. I soon lost all desire for sleep though. As Jacob was scolding me yet again for dozing, the brightest light I’d ever seen emerged right before our eyes. An angel-it had to be an angel- stood there right before us, staring at us with this look in his eye like he was on a mission.
“DO NOT BE AFRAID; FOR BEHOLD, I BRING YOU GOOD NEWS OF GREAT JOY WHICH WILL BE FOR ALL THE PEOPLE,”
His voice boomed as if it was made of thunder. We trembled as we fell on our backs. His warning about not being afraid didn’t really help with the shock of seeing a glowing being suddenly appear in your field.
“…FOR TODAY IN THE CITY OF DAVID THERE HAS BEEN BORN TO YOU A SAVIOR, WHO IS CHRIST THE LORD. THIS WILL BE A SIGN FOR YOU. YOU WILL FIND A BABY WRAPPED IN CLOTHS AND LYING IN A MANGER.”
As he finished speaking, another flash of light burst into the sky as a whole host of other angels appeared, praising God and saying:
“GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST
“AND ON EARTH PEACE AMONG MEN
“WITH WHOM HE IS PLEASED.”
Then, as quickly as they had appeared, they vanished. The night was once again quiet and peaceful. The stars were glimmering, the breeze was gently blowing. You could have never guessed that a heavenly host had just exploded into being right at that spot.
We all rose slowly, still shaking from sheer fear. I looked around. Jacob was trying to say something, but couldn’t seem to get the words out. We all just stood there in shock, trying to process what had just happened. Who was this person the angel was talking about? A savior? Like, the prophesied savior spoken about by the kings and prophets of old? We’d all heard of someone like that, but here, now?
After a minute or so, Jacob found his voice. “We should go to Bethlehem right now. We need to see what’s happened that the Lord just told us about.” Without a word, Simeon and I followed, clutching our staffs tightly as we walked. We completely forgot about the sheep, just left them to roam the field and fend for themselves. It’s a miracle none of them ran off. Especially Bethy.
It took about an hour to make our way into town and find the manger that the angel told us about. There’s a lot of mangers in a town. Once we found it though, we couldn’t believe our eyes. Here was the Savior, the one prophesied to save Israel. This was the Christ, and he was wrapped in an old piece of cloth in a bed of straw.
I tried to explain to his parents, Mary and Joseph I think, what we had heard. Joseph beamed and thanked us, all the while fawning over his son, trying to make him as comfortable as he could for being born in a barn. Mary just sat by the manger, a slight little smile on her face. She didn’t say much, but I could tell she was pondering every word we said.
After an hour or so, we decided to leave them to their peace. We didn’t hesitate to tell every passerby and stranger we saw as we walked back to the fields what we had seen. I’m sure most of them thought we were crazy, but a few of them wondered at the beauty of it. I think a few snuck over to the manger later.
It was almost dawn by the time we returned to the field. The sheep were all still there, grazing quietly on the few tufts of grass left over here. I did a quick scan to make sure they were all accounted for, then found a rock to lean against while I reflected on all that had happened. The King of Kings, lying in a manger, and we got to meet him. How amazing was that? Ah, how amazing was that?