Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Night Before Xmas, Scene 6: Shepherds Hear the News

The old man addressed the children. “So, Jesus was born in a stable, behind an inn that had no room for him, full of people who had no time for him.”

“Didn’t they know who he was?”

“No, Becky, they did not. And they really didn’t care. They weren’t bad people, just busy. They were going about their business, doing what they had to do. They had no idea what God was doing there that night and they had no time for the baby Jesus. Isn’t that a lot like people today? We rush around throughout the Christmas season, going to school concerts and Christmas parties, and baking and shopping. But there is no time left for Jesus.”

The injustice of it all bothered Lori. “Jesus was born and no one knew a thing about it?”

“Oh, there were a few people that knew about it. But they weren’t in Bethlehem. They were shepherds out on the hillside, watching over their flocks that night.”

“How did they find out about it?” asked Stevie. “Did they see it on the news?”

Becky poked him in the head with her finger. “You don’t have anything in your brain but television.”

“At least I have something in mine,” he snapped back at her.
They were about to tangle so Lori intervened and sat between them, an arm hindering each of them from attempting bodily harm on the other. “Why don’t we stop fighting and listen to this man’s story. It the best story I have ever heard.” Becky and Stevie calmed down and agreed to declare a truce.

“It is a great story, Lori. And it is better because it is true. Stevie, they did not have TV’s to give them news back then. They had something even better. They had angels.”

Lori started laughing. “Angels? You have got to be kidding. Are you telling me that angels are real?”

The man had a strange look on his face. “Yes, Lori. Of course they are real. They are God’s messengers, doing his work in this world. And they are more real that you can know. Most of the time, you can’t see them, but once in a while, God allows an angel to appear on earth to deliver God’s message.”

He stared straight at her and continued. “That night was like any other dark night in the Judean hills. The shepherds slept around the camp fire; the only sound was the bleating of the sheep. But suddenly, the darkness was split by a blinding light. The startled shepherd cringed in fear as an angel appeared to them. What a happy angel he was, entrusted with the privilege of being the first to announce the blessed news of the Jesus’ birth. ‘For, unto you is born tonight, in the City of David, a savior, who is Christ the Lord." And then, the rest of the angels couldn't hold back anymore. Bursting forth from heaven, they filled the night sky shouting in heavenly voices, "Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth, Peace to those whom God favors.’ And just as suddenly as they came, they were gone. The Shepherds decided to get up and go in to Bethlehem. These men were the first to see the Baby Jesus, savior of the world. It was the best night of their lives.

Hark! the herald angels sing, "Glory to the new born King,
peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!"
Joyful, all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies;
with th' angelic host proclaim ,"Christ is born in Bethlehem!"
Hark! the herald angels sing, "Glory to the new born King!"

Christ, by highest heaven adored; Christ, the everlasting Lord;
late in time behold him come, offspring of a virgin's womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; hail th' incarnate Deity,
pleased with us in flesh to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Hark! the herald angels sing, "Glory to the new born King!"

Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings, risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by, born that we no more may die,
born to raise us from the earth, born to give us second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing, "Glory to the new born King!"

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