And now, the third in our series of Christmas newsletters. How is your own coming along?
I s’pose by the time you get this here letter, it will be old news. But I don’t care. It’s still the biggest thing what ever happened to me and I’ll keep telling the story as long as folks keep listenin’. There ain’t no need to embellish it, neither, because the truth is hard enough to believe even if I stick to the basic facts.
Now that I am 13, this is the year Pa picked me to go with him and the other shepherds on flock duty. Until this year, no matter how hard I tried, the sheep wouldn’t come when I called. Pa taught me the right words and I tried to mimic his voice, but they would only come for him. Now that my voice is deeper, I am startin’ to sound like my father and the sheep will come runnin’ for me too. The first time that happened, Pa’s chest popped out and he had a big grin on his face. I want to be as good a shepherd as Pa someday. It’s the life for me!
We had been campin’ in that pasture west of Bethlehem for about a week and the men were talkin’ about movin’ on in another day or two. We had the sheep settled for the night and those of us who weren’t on guard duty was chillin’ around the fire. This is my favorite time, listenin’ to the men tellin’ stories, every once in a while the gentle sound of the sheep. I was wrapped in my blanket and just about to doze off.
All of sudden, I thought I musta fell fast asleep and the sun was up. Everything was lit up like daylight, but it weren’t the sun. I flipped over in my bedroll and saw where the light was comin’ from—heard it, too. I ain’t never seen nothin’ like it in all my life and I don’t mind tellin’ ya I was shakin’ like the tails on them little newborn lambs.
“What is that, Pa?” It looked like a giant, shiny person just kinda floatin’ in the sky.
But Pa just stood there with his mouth hangin’ open. My big, brave father was shakin’ too. Then the angel or whatever it was started talkin.’
“Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: 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.”
Before we even had a chance to soak this in, we saw thousands and thousands more angels, all singin’ the most beautiful music I ever heard. They was singin’ praise to God one minute and then, just like that, they was gone.
The men all started talkin’ at once. What just happened? I was proud of Pa when he got everyone to quiet down for an orderly discussion. It didn’t take long for them to decide we was runnin’ off to Bethlehem (David’s town, don’t ya know) as fast we could go. I had never in all my life seen my father leave sheep untended, but this night I did. But then, this was a night of lots of strange things.
I don’t know how the men figured out which stable to go to when we got to town. I was just followin’ along. But wouldn’t ya know it? We found a young couple named Joseph and Mary and a brand new little baby. He was lyin’ in a manger, just like the angel said.
Well, we stayed awhile and then we run off, tellin’ everybody we met about it and we’re tellin’ everybody still. I ‘spect I’ll still be tellin’ about it when I’m an old, old shepherd.
Anyway, that was the highlight of my year, and Pa’s too. Highlight of our lives, actually. We don’t understand it all, but we know that must be one special baby to have angels announcing him. Cute little guy. He will likely grow up to be a carpenter like his pa. But if I had a chance, I’d teach him about bein’ a shepherd. A really good shepherd. The kind whose sheep know his voice and follow him everywhere.