“Elek!” Abdiel whispered, shaking the dozing shepherd’s shoulder violently. Elek responded by snoring louder, a stream of drool pooling in his scraggly beard. “Elek!” Abdiel hissed louder, smacking Elek across the back of the head. “..mhama….what?” Elek sputtered. He sprung forwards, away from the oak tree he had been using as a backrest. His hand shot to the spot where Abdiel slapped him.
“What is that?” Abdiel demanded.
“What’s what?” Elek retorted, rubbing his head.
Abdiel pointed to the cloaked figure passing through the sheep in the field, silhouetted by the backdrop of a full moon. Elek scrambled to his feet, gripping his rod. “Who goes there?” He declared into the night, spooking a couple of the nearby sheep.
There was no response as the figure continued its steady approach.
“You there! Stop! Identify yourself!” Abdiel demanded.
Ignoring his challenge, the person closed in, his sheer enormity becoming apparent as he drew closer. Abdiel took an involuntary step backwards, his knuckles turning white as he gripped his own rod. The figure stopped a few feet from then, head down, face concealed by the dark hood. Abdiel’s heart hammered against the cavity in his chest.
Slowly, the silent figure lifted his hands – curiously shiny as if forged by a blacksmith, perhaps an illusory trick with the angle of moonlight. It pulled back its hood and a blinding light erupted through the night. Hand shooting to his face, Abdiel squinted through the gap of his fingers at the brilliant white face radiating before him. Panic seizing his body, he fell to his knees.
“Fear not!” The booming voice rumbled across the field, echoing as though a dozen people were speaking. “For behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”
Another explosion of light, and a circle of equally brilliant figures appeared all around Abdiel, spinning in a dizzying circle as they sang. Abdiel could just make out their words: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
As Abdiel watched in awestruck wonder, the sky ripped open, golden light pouring down from the heavens. There was a flash of light and all the brilliant figures were gone, leaving Abdiel kneeling in stunned silence, drenched in sweat, listening to a lamb bleating softly in the cool night air.
“What now?” Elek broke the silence, his voice wavering.
Abdiel turned his head slowly, his motor control skills lackluster as his body still trembled. He studied Elek’s equally frightened face for a moment, before slipping into a sheepish smile. “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
Luke doesn’t tell us how many shepherds the angel appeared to and I can only use my overactive imagination to depict exactly how it may have gone down (as I did above). But we do know from his account that more than one shepherd received the angelic message and did indeed respond:
“16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished,19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.” (Luke 2:16-20 NLT)
The cool thing, is that here I am over 2,000 years later celebrating Christmas with the exact same message – God came down.
Immanuel, God is with us, will save his people from their sins - resounding words of triumph and promises fulfilled. What great joyous good news indeed! No wonder “the shepherds went back to their flocks glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.”
This Christmas, I am going to spoil my children with too many gifts and going to stuff my face with too much food - despite the fact that we all seem to be coming down with the flu. But you know what? I have a reason to be joyous and celebrate, and for that I am not ashamed.
Merry Christmas y'all!
- Nicolas C. Day
 Luke 2:10-12 ESV
 Luke 2:14 ESV
 Luke 2:15 NLT
 Matthew 1:23
 Matthew 1:21
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