Last week my American penfriend commented on the other blog that her grandaughter had broken a shepherd from the nativity set and although a new one had been ordered it meant that they were having a variation on the bible story because the shepherd would arrive after the magi. I sent this story but as I did only three “pauses” during Advent I’ve decided to add this one.
The shepherd who was late
I was pretty cross that night. First of all something woke me up. I always feel a bit ratty when I get woken out of a deep sleep and whoever it was woke me also decided that it might be a good idea to sing to me. They were wrong. It was a bad idea.
And it wasn’t just one guy who was singing: it was a whole crowd of them and boy were they loud! “Glory to God in the highest and peace, good will to all men.”
Well, I suppose that was better than my brother's usual version of the dawn chorus but anything would be better than that. Somehow though the light was even brighter than it usually is when I wake up and I really couldn’t look. The singing went on and on and they were going on about a baby born in Bethlehem. So what? Babies are born every day. And about this being the Saviour we’ve been waiting for. Yeah, right.
Anyway, the light suddenly faded and the singing stopped and it was quiet again and I was ready to go to sleep but the others had obviously decided that it was a good time for a chat. Idiots. Then, would you believe it, they decided to go into Bethlehem to see this baby. Oh wonderful – not!
No way was I going to get up and go down to Bethlehem. Forget it. I need my sleep.
Anyway off they went to Bethlehem and off I went to sleep.
The next morning they were full of it. They’d seen the baby and his mother and they were in a manger in a cave near the pub just like the voice had said. They kept going on and on about it. I got fed up and couldn’t stand it any longer so I went to watch the sheep.
But, you know, they had made me curious. I didn’t want to know – but I did want to know. Torn apart I was.
A couple of weeks later it was my day off and I decide to go to Bethlehem. I needed to see a few people and when I’d finished I went to the Lamb and Flag for a pint. Or five.
A few hours later I sort of rolled out of the pub and was about to go home when I saw a lantern burning in a field and I could hear voices. It sounded as though it could be a party so I went over to check it out.
You have never seen anything like it. There were camels and pack mules and various servants hanging around and over near the cave there were some fancy looking chaps. Well, you have to see what’s happening, don’t you? So over I went and guess what? They were looking at the baby too. They’d brought some very fancy presents. Gold (always acceptable), frankincense which will keep the flies away, and myrrh which will be very handy when the baby starts to cut his teeth.
And so I looked at what had made my mates drool, at what had made these strangers travel hundreds of miles and all there was - was a baby. But you know what? He looked at me and he smiled.
You know I think I am the luckiest man in the world. I saw the strangers, the baby smiled at me, and I didn’t lose my sleep that night. My mates saw the baby first, but I reckon I did pretty well too.