January 2, 2023:  Shepherd

Grace Frounfelker wrote “It Happened to Ordinary People” as seven monologs that retrace the events surrounding Jesus’ birth through the eyes of certain key characters. We present them here as a special series of devotions this Christmas season. This is from a Shepherd.

Being a shepherd is a lonely job, especially when you’re working the swing shift. While everyone else is fast asleep you’re having to stand watch. It does give a person time to think though. I talk to God sometimes while I’m keeping watch. I told that to the rabbi once.

“That’s good, Zach,” he said. ”A lot of our psalms were written because David talked to God during the night watch.”

That made me feel good even though my talk doesn’t come out like poetry, like David’s. It’s just good honest talk between me and God.

I was talking to God last night when it happened: there stood a man in shining clothes (actually it was an angel) right in front of me. The angel said that the Messiah had been born here in Bethlehem and we would find him in a stable. And then there was a whole crowd of angels, all singing glory to God!

Suddenly everything was dark again. I heard Amos calling to me from his post on the other side of the flock. He had seen and heard the angels too. And then three other shepherds came running from their posts.

“Did you see what I saw?!” “The Messiah has been born!” “Yes, and in Bethlehem, of all places!” We shouted to each other as we ran stumbling across the fields toward town. Most of Bethlehem was dark. But we saw this dim light coming from a stable at the edge of town. The angel had said we would find the baby lying in a manger.

A young fellow met us at the doorway. He took us to the stall where he had made a bed for his wife in the hay. In the manger lay a newborn baby boy, a tiny sleeping baby with one fist against his cheek. Yet somehow, I knew I was in the presence of God. We kneeled there for a long time. Finally, we talked, telling the young couple about the angels. Their faces shone.

“Yes, we know,” they said. “He is the Son of God.”

Then I remembered. We had left the sheep alone! I agreed to go back to the watch and cover for the others. They ran home to tell our families and neighbors everything we had seen.

I don’t feel strange anymore about talking to God when I’m on watch. I know now that God is listening. And when he has some­ thing to say to me I will be listening.

Grace Frounfelker