“A Shepherd’s Christmas Story”
It was a star filled night as we sat huddled around the campfire drinking hot tea and telling stories. There was nothing unusual about the scene we made; we’d been doing it all our lives. Sitting out on that Judean hillside away from the hustle and bustle of nearby villages would have seemed like a lonely life to most people, but we were content. After all, it was the only life any of us had ever known. We had no special talents, nor did we come from wealthy families. Thus, shepherding became our lot in life. I rather enjoyed the solitude that came with the job. You see, shepherds aren’t looked at too fondly. We stink like sheep!! When walking our charges through town back to their stables, we are often met with turned up noses and rude comments.
By the way, my name is Aaron. I’m sure by now you have figured out that I am a shepherd. My home is located just on the outskirts of Bethlehem. I prefer to live away from the more populated areas of the village. The less I have to deal with rude village people the better. I’ve never married, because well, I just never liked the thought of having one of those nagging wives. The very idea gives this old bachelor the shivers. Besides, who wants to be married to a poor, stinky shepherd. I enjoyed my quiet life and was my own boss who didn’t have to answer to anyone.
There was however, one thing that bothered me about life, but I just couldn’t put a finger on it. Down in the depths of my heart, there was an emptiness. I didn’t understand why it was there. I loved my life - the guys that I worked with were my best friends, plus I had lots of brothers and sisters. It really troubled me at times that I felt this way, and because it such a deep, personal feeling, I was too afraid to ever talk about it. The guys would have just teased me that a nagging wife would be the cure for what ailed me. That was the last thing I wanted to hear.
The sheep were grazing contentedly nearby as me and my fellow shepherds huddled around the campfire. I had become lost in my own thoughts as the others talked about home life and the latest antics of their kids. It was a common night and we were as contented as flies on honey when out of nowhere came a light so bright we were momentarily blinded. “What in the world is going on”, yelled Luke, one of the other shepherds. Paralyzing fear gripped all of us. We couldn’t move nor could we speak as we struggled trying to figure out what was about to attack us. As though in response to Luke’s question the bright light became a heavenly being. Simon the youngest shepherd couldn’t handle anymore and collapsed to the ground as though dead.
Then it spoke to us - “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
And if that wasn’t enough, the entire sky filled with angels singing the most beautiful song I ever heard. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” I couldn’t help it, tears began to stream down my leather, tan face. All at once, the feeling that had haunted me all my life started to feel a connection toward the words of the angel. Could it be? Was this babe the Messiah? Hope filled my heart and with my fellow shepherds we ran without a backwards glance to the village. There was no mistaking where the manger was located, because the biggest, brightest star ever seen was suspended right over top. The village was fast asleep when we arrived making it easy to maneuver down the streets. As we neared the middle of town where all the shops and Inns were located, the star became bright as the noonday sun, and we knew we were almost there. Excitement and a little fear filled our entire beings. What would we find. Was this just some weird dream, a result of being out in the hills attending sheep?
There at the corner of Faith and Hope Streets stood the mysterious stable. There was nothing out of the ordinary here. The village was so quiet you could hear the snoring of nearby donkeys. We ran to it’s door and peeked in. The moment my eyes saw the tiny, sleeping bundle I knew that what the angel has said and what the angels had sung about was true! Suddenly, I realized that the once empty feeling that I had was gone and in it’s place was joy and peace. For my eyes had seen my Salvation. I fell to my knees on the hay strewn floor and wept and worshiped the little King. Forever grateful that He had come to me, a lonely shepherd.
2000 plus years later I still can’t keep the glad tidings to myself. I am here to tell you that you too can experience the Messiah. Come, worship with me and all Christians this Christmas, the One who humbled himself and brought us Heaven.
Merry Christmas from a Judean Shepherd!!