Experience the joy and magic of the first Christmas story as experienced by two boys. David is a young Jewish boy, living in Persia, learning to be a scribe, when the star first appears. David had been adopted by one of the wise men, Gaspar, when his father had passed away, and goes as an interpreter for the wise men. Thomas, a young shepherd boy, is there when the angel announces the Christ child. Almost two years later, he meets David and leads him and the wise men to the house of Joseph, Mary and Jesus in Bethlehem. Along the way, David learns lessons about faith, and about accepting differences in all people who would worship the Christ child!
The excerpt below is where Thomas sees the angel.
Thomas liked these cold nights with his daddy. Somehow the cold night air made everything feel more real, and made him feel more alive. He loved snuggling close to his daddy and feeling his body getting all warm from his daddy’s warmth.
His mother had died a year ago, and his daddy had felt that, at seven years old, he was old enough to come with to help care for the sheep, so the little boy spent most of his life now outdoors. He was eight years old now, and knew that he was missing out on school, but his daddy taught him all the scripture stories, and he had learned enough reading before his mother died that he felt he could get by, so he didn’t worry about it. Whenever he got into town, he would visit with his friends and play with them. His lack of schooling did not seem to affect his friendships.
Earlier that afternoon, his daddy had taken him up to a high crag. They had looked down on the town of
distance. His daddy had told him how the
city was called the City of Bethlehem
and why it had that name. He also told
him that the sheep for special sin offerings had to come from an area around David Jerusalem that extended up to and including . He told him about how the coming messiah was
to be born in the city of Bethlehem ,
and that he would free them all from the Romans when that day came. Bethlehem
Thomas listened carefully. He loved to learn from his daddy, and felt that his daddy was the smartest man in the world. After they returned to the sheep fold, his daddy sang some Psalms with him. He loved this too. He loved the feeling of comfort and safety that the words of the Psalms gave him. The last one they sang was a song of prayer, calling for God to send his Salvation quickly. The little boy sighed contentedly. He loved to praise and worship God! Then he snuggled under the blanket, against the warmth of his daddy, and fell asleep.
He wasn’t sure what woke him. Was it a sound? Was it a light? There was a light in the sky, one that was hard to look at. He crawled out of his blankets. Everyone seemed to be asleep. Shivering in the cold, he grabbed his cloak and pulled it around his bare shoulders and walked to the door of the sheepfold, the ground cold to his bare feet, staring up, squinting at the brightness of the light.
What was he looking at? As his eyes became more accustomed to the light, he realized that it was a man. The man was shining so bright it hurt his eyes to look at him! The man was standing about 50 feet away from the door of the sheepfold, on the mountain. As he looked at him, he felt a shock of fright go through him! There was something unnatural, terrible and awesome about the man! A white-hot gush of fright was exploding deep inside of him. It ran up the front of his tummy and burned into his chest, making it impossible for him to breathe! He was sure his heart had stopped!
“DADDY!” he screamed in terror, falling to his face. He was so frightened he couldn’t get his breath to scream again. He was suffocating with the terror coursing through his little body! He wanted it to stop more than anything he had ever experienced!
Shouts behind him told him that his cry was heard. “What is it?” several men yelled. Then he heard their gasps.
He heard his daddy’s voice, unsteady beside him, saying “God have mercy on us, what is this?” Then all was quiet.
Shaking with terror, still unable to get his breath, Thomas didn’t dare to raise his head. He was certain he would die, yet he wanted the terror to end so badly that he thought it might be a relief if he did die! He could sense the intense whiteness of the glow, coming past his arms that were shielding his head, and through his eyelids. It was like a terrible nightmare. He wanted it to go away so badly!
“Don’t be afraid!” He knew the words were from the creature, because they penetrated through his mind and body as no words had ever done before!
Something in the voice caused the terror to cease. You could not resist that voice when it spoke! His tummy was still churning with the aftermath of the terror that had gushed through it, but the source of the terror was gone. He could breathe again, and he took in air in great gasps, sobbing, but with relief now.
He raised his head and looked at the man. This time he saw that the eyes radiated love: A love that was so strong, that it erased the last traces of his fear, and though still trembling, gasping and sobbing, he was able to kneel upright and look right at him. His cloak fell off, exposing his bare upper body, but he was not cold. The warmth of that love seemed to fill his entire body. Never had he seen such a face, or such a being! It was like a man: It had arms, legs, a body and a head, yet it was clearly not a normal man. The being radiated a power and an authority that was awesome and terrible all at the same time. Thomas realized that all the shepherds had stood or were kneeling, facing the creature. His daddy’s arm was around him now, and he could feel his daddy trembling. The creature continued to talk:
“I bring to you good news, that shall bring joy to all nations! For this day, in the city of
, a child is born,
who is Christ, the Lord.” David
Thomas had almost stopped sobbing when the creature began to speak again, but as soon as the creature said the word “joy”, it brought an explosion of joy to him, and he began sobbing hard again, this time for sheer joy. He was aware that the men all around him were doing the same. Now a new sensation of joy filled him so completely, that he was conscious of it filling his tummy, pushing out the fear, filling his chest so that his little heart felt like it would burst! He felt it in the tips of his bare toes, and the palms of his hands, and to the top of his scalp! The joy was as overpowering as the terror had been! He couldn’t help himself; the sobbing was quickly replaced by giggling! The joy had him giggling helplessly, with total abandon, yet there was no sense of it being irreverent. It was the right thing for a little boy to do in the face of such immense joy! He simply couldn’t help himself!
The creature, its face glowing with love and joy, spoke again. “This will be how you will know the child. He will be wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
As he was speaking, the sky was getting brighter and brighter. Thomas looked up at it. The sky was full of more of these creatures. Thomas had never seen a crowd as big as this. Even when he was five and visited the temple in Jerusalem with his daddy and mommy, he had never seen this many people. The creatures began to sing. Their words were “Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth, peace, good-will toward men.” The effects of these words were a sense of awe and wonder. The giggling stopped, now he found himself singing, his young voice combined with the older voices of the shepherds, they could not help but sing the words of the song that the creatures were singing.
Somehow, they knew exactly what to sing, words and melody coming from their hearts. Thomas felt like the song originated somewhere deep in his tummy, gushed up through his heart and exploded out of his mouth. The song drew a sense of wonder and praise for God right out of the center of his being! He felt that God deserved the glory, and was awed that God would have good-will toward him. He sensed that it was to be taken personally by any who heard it!
As the song ended, Thomas and the shepherds bowed their heads; the brightness was too great to look at. Then, the light disappeared and all was dark again, except for the flickering light from their fire.
Thomas looked up; he could not see in the dark. “Daddy, where are you?” he asked in a shaky voice.
“I’m here beside you.” He felt his daddy’s arm squeeze him again.
He felt his daddy pick him up and hold him close. He had tears running down his cheeks. He put his hand up, and could feel the same on his daddy’s cheek. “Daddy, I can’t stop crying, but I’m not sad!”
“Me too, little shepherd, me too.” His daddy said, in a trembling voice.
Another voice; that of the eldest shepherd Eli, echoed the thought. “I too cannot contain the joy.” His voice shook with emotion.
Thomas could see now. His eyes had gotten accustomed to the dark again. They walked back to the fire and stoked it up. No one thought of sleeping. None of them spoke. For a minute, as the fire rose, they just stood staring at it.
Thomas frowned. “Daddy, what were those things?”
Eli answered in an awe-struck voice. “Those were angels. I believe that the one who spoke would have been the Angel of the Lord.”
“Oh!” said Thomas. He thought for a moment, then asked. “Don’t angels tell us what God wants us to do?”
“Yes!” Eli answered. No one else seemed to want to talk.
“Why would the angel tell us how to find the baby? Does that mean that God wants us to go see him?”
The men around the fire looked at each other, startled. “Yes! Of course!” It was Thomas’ daddy speaking. “We must go, right now, and see this thing, which the Lord has shown to us!”
One of the younger shepherds asked “What of the sheep?”
Eli spoke without hesitation. “If God has called us to do this, our sheep will be safe. We will close the sheepfold, but we must all go to see this thing, at once!”
It only took a few moments to make things ready. Thomas pulled his tunic on and picked up his cloak, putting it around his shoulders.
“Daddy, how long will it take us to get to Bethlehem in the dark?” He asked. He knew how long it would take in daylight. He’d never walked it at night.
His daddy looked up at the sky. The moon had come from behind a cloud, and a very bright star, that Thomas did not recall ever seeing, giving good light. “If we have moon light, we can make good time, and be there in two hours. I don’t know how we’ll find what we’re looking for there, but God will see us through! We will be tired, but we should be back here by morning. I will carry you on my shoulders if you get too tired.”
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