The night was just starting to unfold. My mind wandered to the hillside for a second, how was Rod and the flock doing with us not there to protect them? But my thoughts quickly found their way back to the stall where I sat. I didn’t need to worry about our sheep, any enemy that had seen the glory of the Lord must have been half way to Galilee by that point.
I had introduced Mary to the boys as they made their way into the stall. Dan plopped down beside me and leaned over to see the now sleeping babe. Uri was still talking to Joseph, I had never heard him talk so much in my entire life! He shared about the majestic angel and the news that was shared with us. He even remembered the exact words the angels had proclaimed, singing as he repeated them. Uri had never been much of a singer, it was no different that night. I tried not to giggle, but couldn’t help myself. Next thing I knew Solly was laughing too, which meant only one thing, the snorting was about to begin. I had known Solly all my life, and for all of my life, Solly had snorted every time he laughed. He snorted so loud that the little donkey’s head jerked and his floppy ears shot straight up. It was contagious, everyone’s laughter filled the night air.
Once we all caught our breath, Joseph began to unravel their story. Turned out Mary had been visited by an angel and Joseph had seen one in a dream. He deepened his voice to sound like the angels, “Do not be afraid!” Then I interrupted, “That’s exactly what the angel said to us, I was more afraid than the first time I saw a mama bear approaching the flock!”
Joseph continued on, telling us how he was a carpenter in Nazareth, but the census had brought them to Bethlehem since he was a descendant of King David. I sat up a little straighter. I loved the story of King David. When I was a little boy, anytime I was afraid, Nonna would say, “Asher, we don’t turn and run because of fear! We face it in the name of the Lord who is all powerful, just like David did!” Nonna was always right.
Mary joined in on telling their story, “When it was time to leave, we loaded down the sleepy head,” she looked over, nodding to the donkey, “Joe had been calling him Zeer (which means ‘little’ in Hebrew), but by the time we made it to Bethlehem, I had renamed him. We now call him, Ira, because he watched out for us the entire 80 mile journey. He let me steady myself on him as we walked down the steep hills, taking his time, never getting ahead of me.”
Joseph smiled at Mary, “I think Ira has earned his keeping.” She nodded in agreement.
The night was stretching on, but I was wide awake. I looked around, Eli was sitting against the back wall, but he showed no signs of being tired. We talked for what must have been hours. I looked out into the sky and saw a sliver of light in the East. Morning was on the way.
When Jesus had begun to squirm, Mary had picked him up, adjusting the swaddling cloths and holding Him close. He settled back to sleep. “Would you like to hold him,” she leaned forward and asked me. “I-I-I’ve never held a baby before,” I stuttered. She reassured me and placed his head in the crook of my arm.
As I held Him, the boys stood to their feet and were starting to say their goodbyes. I leaned in and whispered to Jesus, “We have been waiting on You, King Jesus! Our people have talked about You for hundreds of years, and here You are, just like the great prophets said. I will tell the story of this night to anyone who has ears. And I will listen for Your name as You grow, for the stories that will be told, the lives changed like mine already has been from Your coming. It is to You, King Jesus, that I praise!”
I looked up to see Mary wiping a tear as it slid down her cheek, “King Jesus,” she said as she reached to hold him again. I stood to my feet, “This has been the best night of my entire life,” I exclaimed as I shook Joseph’s hand. Mary smiled at me, “Goodbye Asher, I hope we see you again soon.” I hoped so too.
As I walked out, I leaned down and straightened Ira’s floppy ear, then rubbed him on the nose, “Ira, this is a special family, so you keep being a good ol’ boy!” I turned to look back one more time. Mary was holding Jesus with one arm, while the other hand rubbed his soft cheek. She looked like she was trying to memorize his face, this was a moment she never wanted to forget.
I nodded my head at Joseph and took off. The boys were once again ahead of me, but Uri slowed his pace, “Hurry up, Asher, your legs are young, get ’em moving!” I sprinted full speed ahead catching up to them as they rounded the last stall, then I slowed to a walk. The sun was peeking above the hillside and light was beginning to shine all around. Eli’s stomach growled, “Are you boys hungry?” Solly looked at Eli shaking his head yes. Solly was always ready to eat. We turned to head towards the center of the village. Everyone would be awake by now, the streets full of more people than normal. After all, Joseph had said that so many people had come for the census that there were no rooms left for them to stay in.
We made it to the village square quickly, and we told every person we saw what had happened. All who heard us were amazed! One older lady even jumped up and down while clapping her hands, I didn’t know old people could jump that high. But I bet Nonna would have done the same thing.
When we left the village, we praised God every step of the way back to the flock. Arriving just in time to see Rod look back with that same squint in his eye as he headed over the hillside. Uri didn’t even have to tell me to hurry, I took off, yelling the entire way, “ROD, wait up! You will never believe what my eyes saw and my ears heard last night!” I caught up with him as he began to munch on some grass. I sat down and told him every detail of our not so ordinary night.
1. Joseph and Mary had travelled 80 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem, even in a car, that seems like a long distance. It would have taken them more than 2 days to walk there. How do you think they felt once they arrived in Bethlehem?
2. Asher said that the night he met Jesus was the best time in his entire life. Had you been Asher, what would have been your favorite part of that night?
3. The shepherds told everyone they saw about their night and meeting Jesus. What are some ways you can tell others about Jesus?
4. Parents, this one is for you…Luke 2:19 tells us that “Mary treasured up all of these things, pondering them in her heart.” The Greek word for “treasured up” means to preserve and keep close. As parents, haven’t we all looked at our children in moments and treasured them up? Take a few minutes to share with your child(ren) a moment or two when you “treasured up” time with them.
Thank you for taking the time to read “The Shepherd’s Not so Ordinary Night”. You can check out the first two installments by clicking HERE for part one or HERE for part two. I wish you a wonderful Christmas season, full of moments where you slow down and soak up treasured moments as you celebrate King Jesus! -Linds.