Welcome to December, dear reader! I have a little something for you in celebration of this season. Below you can read a free sample of my short fiction… Christmas style. You can also click here to have it in PDF format; easy to open, read and/or download. You’re welcome to pass it around and share it with your friends and family. Enjoy this Christmas season.
Tens of thousands of exhausted travellers trampled the dusty roads all over the country as they made their way to their towns of birth. Richer pilgrims perched on boney donkeys which lugged carts overflowing with a bounty of food supplies, rolls of spare clothes and blankets, cookware and animal feed. The less privileged carried little more than the clothes on their back. All itched under a coat of sweat and dust. Some travellers sat by the road sides in muted groups and plucked strands of wilted grass or devoured meals as they gave their feet a rest. No one had anything to say. Everyone was there for the same reason; a census had been called. Age made no difference and wealth made no difference. It didn’t matter how far one would have to travel. All men under the rule of the Roman Empire were to take their families and check in at their birth towns to give their names.
As the sky faded to orange, a hum of activity arose among the pilgrims. They all knew thieves ruled the nights with their knives and schemes, and all at once, everyone was in a hurry to get off the roads. Travellers rushed in and out of overcrowded inns in search of a place to stay. Hundreds were turned away due to lack of room before they found a place to lay their heads. Some of them never found an inn with a spare room. Instead, they settled for the town squares, the stables of sympathetic farmers, or whichever street corner the man of the family decided.
The stars came out and the commotion gave way to calm. Hebrew parents all over the country hushed excited children. Others rocked babies in their arms until silence swallowed their cries. Travellers snubbed out their oil lamps and, one by one, the windows went black.
On the outskirts of towns all across the land, shepherds guarded their flocks against wolves. Two thirds of them slept while the others spoke to each other in hushed tones by firelight. One could almost hear a sigh of relief sweep over the country. No one knew this night was different than any other.
In an instant, I appeared before the shepherds. My presence woke up those who’d fallen asleep by the smoldering coals. Their jaws dropped to reveal tongues flattened against the bottoms of their mouths. Their eyes widened until I could see their whites all around. I grinned at their shock. They’d never seen an angel sent by God in the highest heavens. Terrified by the glory of the Lord, some of them dropped to their knees before me. I lifted my voice:
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
The men were speechless. I could almost see the wheels turning behind their eyes as they began to connect the dots. One by one, they turned their heads to where the small town, Bethlehem, slept on the horizon. Also referred to as the town of David, Bethlehem was most well known for what prophets had said about it. The shepherds’ faces lit up, one after the other, like fairy lights to signal the moment they understood. The promised Messiah was born.
A moment later, the sky burst into radiant light as other angels appeared, praising God in the highest heaven. They danced through the sky, carried by awe. Beaming and overcome with joy, I joined in with the melodious tune. The blades of grass swayed in step and the sheep lifted their heads in wonder.
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
I didn’t understand why our God would show such amazing grace towards sinful mankind. I didn’t know why He would send them a Saviour. Never has any angel experienced forgiveness. The moment one of us is proud, he is cast out of our God’s presence forever. But that night, the same King of kings wrapped himself in a garment of human flesh and stooped down to earth to make a way for humans to be reconciled to Him.
Though we may not understand His ways, our God has proved over and over that everything He does is good. Our limited minds can’t grasp His reasons, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t pure. It only proves that His purposes are far beyond our wildest imaginations. That night, we watched the shepherds cling to each other as they rushed towards Bethlehem, abandoning their rods and staffs around the fire and tripping over their own feet. For those shepherds and for all of humanity, that was the night of the amazing grace.