Bethlehem, the city of bread, only ten kilometres from Jerusalem. It was cold in Bethlehem, it was winter but not too cold really. In the hill country of Judah, it was common to see shepherds ascend with their flock to look for pastures.
From afar off a small fire was glowing. The crackle of the branches used for the fire nudged at the silence of that night. Sheep were peacefully lying on the green grass. There was a lamb in the arms of one of the shepherds. The calm upon her face as she chewed brought a certain joy to this shepherd. He loved all this flock, and knew each sheep by name. This lamb in his arms was called Joy.
As the fire continued to crackle, suddenly the sheep all seemed to awake from their slumber, including Joy. A wave of excitement was building. The shepherds were not yet sure what it was until a golden light appeared in the heavens above them.
You could hear the thumping of the shepherd’s heart against his chest a mile away; this man was scared! Joel had never ever seen a sight like this before. Surely some awful thing was going to happen to all of them that night.
The light moved from where he was and then covered all the sheep as well the other shepherds. On seeing the light, they hurriedly arose and came to Joel. It was a beautiful sight from afar off, a golden sunrise in the quiet of the dark cold night. But Joel and his fellows were scared.
Numbed because they felt running would be useless and also because there was the sheep to look after, they awaited whatever fate. The flocks’ safety would matter the most now. Slings in hand, they waited for the unseen terror to strike.
And then, as if rising out of the light, a winged man shot up into the sky! He flew all around the shepherds and their flock and then descended!
The words seemed to escape Joel’s lips.
“Don’t be afraid! I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all the people. This very day in David’s town your Saviour was born—Christ the Lord! And this is what will prove it to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
On saying this, the angel rose higher and then joined host of angels in a heavenly choir as they sang great praises to God!
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. “
The angels sang! Their faces were radiant with such a joy as cannot be explained in human language. They sang, praising God in the highest. They sang praying for peace and good will toward men. Why would angels who much greater in power and knowledge want good will toward men? Yet they sang, because they knew God had a plan to redeem all that were His. His heart was the heart of these angels. Their joy was a little bit of the joy He had; His Son would save many, Yes His Son would save!
Psa 40:5 You have done many things for us, O LORD our God; there is no one like you! You have made many wonderful plans for us. I could never speak of them all— their number is so great!
Joy pervaded the hearts of these shepherds. Soon they too had lifted up holy hands and praised their God. Although their minds still trying to comprehend the message of the angels, their hearts were at peace. Warmth filled their inner souls. They sensed the truth of the good news and their hearts rejoiced!
The angels sang until they had their fill then the sight waned from the sky until it was the dark blue and glittering white of its stars.
Laughing and celebrating, the shepherds only realised later that the angels had gone. There was one thing left to do…
Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us.”