Two of the most powerful words in the English language are “what if.” Though the Bible gives us incredible detail about the Christmas story, I love imagining what it might have been like for those whose stories were never told. And thus began my journey of studying Christmas through a different lens. The shepherds first stirred my heart a few Christmases ago, and then I got to thinking: what if a little boy was bringing his dad dinner in the field and got a front row seat to the angels announcing the Messiah’s birth. Can you imagine? And this creative brain of mine couldn’t help but watch that story unfold.
I watched them light up the sky, these beings just hanging there, shouting, “Glory to God in the highest.” I’ve known about the God of Abraham since I was a baby. But this? This is something different. This child they speak of, lying in a dirty manger…could he be the Messiah my teachers say the scriptures foretold?
My father is one of those shepherds on the hill. He’s training me to take over the flock one day. I can’t wait for my own staff and nights spent under the stars. But not yet. Mother asked me to bring him food tonight. I had just spotted the sheep when the sky burned bright.
Then the angels showed up. I guess that’s what they were. Their voices boomed off the hills, covering the feeble bleating of the sheep stretched across the fields. I covered my ears and hugged my dog, Moses. But I couldn’t help listening. Their voices carried a melody I’ve never heard on earth. Power radiated from each word.
When they finished speaking and the glow of their light faded, Father and the other men immediately left the flocks to see this baby in Bethlehem. How can a baby be the answer to all our prayers? My brother is a baby, and he can’t do anything special.
I followed them to a stable and peered through the door as they hurried to the manger. I could hear the shuffle of hay and clop of hooves on the earthen floor. The room smelled like livestock. I don’t like that smell very much. Why would the Messiah be here? But then I heard a soft cry and saw the woman leaning over him. She’s only a few years older than me – maybe thirteen or fourteen. She cradled him in her arms and I saw him, this little baby wrapped in cloth, his face red and scrunched up. They call him Jesus.
And I knew. The shiny beings, the message from God, the look on my father’s face as he fell to his knees and praised the God of Abraham – this is the Messiah. The one who will save us, the one promised.
My knees buckled and hit the hard floor at the door. He’s here! The one we’ve waited and prayed for. The One who will change everything. And in my heart, I knew I would always follow this baby, the Messiah. I’m told he’ll be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace.
Yes, this baby Jesus is special. He’s my King.
Stay tuned for Jesus’ arrival as experienced by the inn keeper’s wife.