(Below you will find a fictional story for you and your children to enjoy together about the shepherds who were told about Jesus’ birth, along with some discussion questions. I hope it brings this Christmas season into focus and takes you into their field on that not so ordinary night…)
I inhaled the night as I folded my fingers behind my head. It would be a long stretch, as I was still getting used to the night watch. I had counted their fuzzy heads and walked boundaries for the third time already, everyone was accounted for, even little Rod was bedded down for the night. He was quite the wanderer. Have you ever seen a sheep turn to look at you with a squint in their eye as they head over the hillside? That was Rod for you, every single morning. Then my older brother, Uri, would look at me and yell, “Hurry up, Asher, your legs are young, get ‘em moving.” Then off I would go, chasing that little cotton ball.
But this night, my legs didn’t feel very young, they were tired from the days work, and as the newest shepherd in the field, I had to pull first shift. But I knew Uri was still awake, even though he tried to not make it obvious. He was always tough on the outside, but he watched out for me like I watched out for Rod.
I crossed my ankles and gazed up at the stars. I couldn’t help but hum one of the old Psalms that my Nonna used to sing as she gathered eggs while I chased the chicks relentlessly, “O Lord, our Lord, Your majestic name fills the earth…when I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers- the moon and the stars you set in place-.” Boy, I sure missed my Nonna, she always had a song stirring and a hug when I needed it the most. I closed my eyes and tried to see her face, I could hear her saying, “Asher, one day you will shepherd the flock, your feet will walk great lengths, your arms will be strong, your ears sharp, your eyes like an eagle, but keep your heart soft.” Then she would lean down and pull my chin up to look into her big brown eyes and whisper, “Nonna loves you, Ash., more than the fish love the sea.”
I opened my eyes, tears slid down the side of my face, into my curly hair. I wiped them away and blinked quickly until the rest of the tears were gone. There, back to looking at the stars. Not a cloud in the sky could be found that night, stars dotted the sky like the freckles on my cheeks, they were everywhere. The first watch wouldn’t be over for a while, so I decided to play my game of connect the stars. It was amazing all the designs I could come up with.
And then it happened. The loudest crack I had ever heard rang out across the sky! I was standing to my feet within a second. I looked around, Uri was on his feet too, as was Dan, Eli, and Solly. I didn’t even have time to yell their names when a light brighter than the sun circled around us, the darkness had disappeared! My entire body shook as I fell back to the ground. What could this be? Had I fallen and hit my head on a rock? Was I dreaming? If I was, someone needed to wake me up, and quickly, my heart felt like it was going to explode. But this wasn’t a scary dream.
Then I saw him. His robe was as white as Rod’s wool when he was clean. Actually, I had never seen something so white. And he was commanding, even before I heard his voice. I had never seen anyone like him! Then his voice boomed, “Don’t be afraid! I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior-yes, the Messiah, the Lord-has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
Before I could catch my breath, he was joined by more. They were as numerous as the stars. Their arms stretched out wide as they praised saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased.”
“Glory to God, glory to God, glory to God…” is all I could say. Then, they were gone, back into the heavens. The stars reappeared and the night returned. I finally peeled my eyes from the sky to look around and find the sheep looking as if nothing had happened, still bedded down, like they were lying under a blanket of peace. Even Rod hadn’t moved a muscle.
I looked over, Uri was sprinting towards me with Dan, Eli, and Solly on his heels. He reached down and lifted me to my feet. “Glory to God,” I stuttered.
“We must get to Bethlehem and see what the Lord has told us about,” Dan shouted, much louder than normal. Solly couldn’t say a word, his eyes stretched wide as he nodded his head up and down. And Eli, well, he just took off running. I steadied myself just as Uri yelled, “Hurry up, Asher, your legs are young, get ‘em moving!” So, I did just that.
1. Think of all of the things a young shepherd like Asher might have to do while he watches over his flock of sheep. What would be your favorite parts of his job?
2. The Jews would sing Psalms as they traveled, (much like you probably do in the car), they would sing scripture while they did their chores, and songs would get stuck in their heads like they do in yours. Just like Asher easily remembered the Psalm his Nonna sang about how the Lord hung the moon and stars in their place, it’s important that we are full of songs of praise to God! What is one of your favorite songs that reminds you of God’s word?
3. The Bible tells us in Luke 2:9-10 that the shepherds were “terrified” and the angel told them to, “not be afraid”. Why do you think they were “terrified”? Had you been in that field that night, would you have been afraid too?
4. After all the angels returned to the heavens, what might you have said as the other shepherds gathered around?
5. Who do you think will be the first to make it to Bethlehem? Asher, Uri, Dan, Eli, or Solly?
Ready to find out what happens when Asher and the boys arrive in Bethlehem? Click HERE for the next part of “The Shepherd’s Not so Ordinary Night”.