For all those who are even slightly interested in where my heart is right now, it’s for the lost. I wrote a short story inspired by a sermon I heard the week before Christmas. Apparently, Charlie Brown’s Christmas was intimidating and threatening to the powers-that-be, so much so they decided not to air it on December 25th, for the first time since 1965. Guess mentioning Christ on that day offends. Shocker.
After I got over my initial reaction to this news I decided I can do my small part to change my small corner of the world. By writing a short story. About the one left behind. I rarely share my writing other than in blog form but today, I’m genuinely interested in your thoughts. Pretty please and thank you.
Of Shepherds and Kings – a short tale by Kari Grace
Miriam, have I got a tale for you. A tale to tell that might seem impossible. Definitely improbable.
All I ask is that you listen, with an open mind and open heart.
I’ve got to get this off my chest. I’ve been silent for years but now, as this sickness, and my possible death, take their toll, I must speak. I cannot leave here with this inside.
You have often asked me over the years why I changed, seemingly overnight.
I’m finally ready to tell you.
It all began the night we saw angels. Yes, angles. They really do exist. We’ve seen them.
What I’m about to tell you is true. I promise. On oath. It’s the truth. The whole truth.
No one really pays attention to sheepherders. We’re the least likely.
On a scale of one to ten, no kid ever admits in school that they want to be a shepherd.
We’re right up there – or down there, as the case may be – with pig handlers, inn keepers, and lepers.
Forgotten. Ignored. Overlooked. Rejected. Disdained. Demeaned. Despised.
But we are also necessary.
Some of our sheep will become a temple sacrifice. Without us, how would the priests function?
They may look down on us, but they need what we supply.
Anyway, I still remember that night, as clear as day. We were watching our flock of stupid, rebellious sheep, protecting them from harm. Just like we always do.
There was no indication this night was any different from any other. But it was. Life changing.
We were all around the fire, telling camp-out stories like we always do, some true and some I’m really not sure about, when a bright light appeared out of nowhere. Bright as day, and twice as terrifying. Then we heard a voice. No, wait, it gets better.
The voice was loud, but we’d never have missed it anyway, because of the sudden calm in the wind.
A being that resembled a man stood in the center of the light. He said words I’ll never forget, even if I live to be eighty.
He said this:
“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. There is born to you this day in David’s city a Saviour Who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign to you. You will find a Babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
Well, you’d have thought that would be enough, but no.
The next thing we know, that beautiful being I believe to be an angel was joined with a bunch of others, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace; goodwill toward men.”
Heaven is my witness, Miriam; it happened.
Well, after the light beings left and after we got over the shock of seeing and hearing what we all decided later were angelic creatures, the guys got together and decided to go down to Bethlehem and see this thing that had come to pass which the Lord had made known to us.
Yet Joshua pointed out that we couldn’t leave the flock here in the field unattended.
So we drew lots. It was my lucky day. Or night. I drew the short straw.
All night long, as I sat there beside the dying fire, I couldn’t shake the revelation that we were being watched. Had been watched. Who knew how long this angel appearance had been planned? How many years, decades, centuries had they waited for this night?
It wasn’t random; those angels came straight to us.
Shepherds. Worthless, dumb, dirty, trusting, devout men others disregarded.
Thoughts whirled in my head as I realized my Creator, the One I love and worship every day including the Sabbath, knows not only the number of hairs on my balding head but where I am, every moment of the day. And night. And cares enough to show me.
Was I jealous of the others, and wishing I could have gone? Of course. A little.
But every part plays a part. My part that night was to stay and guard the flock.
The guys came back a whole lot later with the other half of the story. The part I didn’t get a part in.
They were moving pretty fast for a bunch of old men as they left me and their livelihood, almost running in fact, spurred on no doubt by the angel’s words; they claimed later they had no trouble finding the mother and father and Babe just as the angel had said, even down to the manger for a crib, to hear them tell it.
The minute they saw Him they fell to their knees in worship of this tiny Babe whose birth angels had foretold’ they were full of joy and exuberant yet reverent adoration. Or so they say.
I think they might have experienced what I call a Holy Hush Moment, right there in amongst the straw.
The scene in the humble stable moved each and every one of them so much they couldn’t keep their mouths shut! Even Stephen, who’s normally so shy and quiet – even he was a part of the telling of that night’s events. Immediately they left the Babe they felt the need to wander all over town, sharing what they’d witnessed.
Guess they forgot about me. The lonely shepherd who drew the short straw.
All the townsfolk who heard them, (and they heard, believe me; I’ve heard from those who heard my fellow sheepherders that night), were amazed; some started praising God, some were close to tears, some marveled, yet some did not believe a word. Some thought them drunk, others blessed.
In the wee hours of the morning, as dawn rose in the east and the chill of night slowly dissipated, they finally made their way back to me and the sheep, still glorifying and praising God for all they’d heard and seen that night. Boy, they were cutting a rug; they let loose right there and then, jumping all over them there hills! Grown men who should know better.
Then they would not be content until I joined in the fun. I tried to tell them someone had to watch the money-makers, but no: they would have none of it. I finally gave up and danced a jig or two myself just to please them, but something came over me and I got all caught up in the moment. You’d probably have been ashamed of me that night but I just couldn’t help myself.
All I can say is this: if I ever see another angel, and he tells me something, I’m gonna be the one to go.
Whenever, wherever, however. I’ll go. I won’t stay behind again. No matter what.
Kari, sheepherder, daughter of a King
all original content, copyright © 2000, karigraceplace.com, all rights reserved