The night was bitterly cold and the wind whipped across the plains with the hint of frost and snow. “Of course it’s cold,” the farmer muttered as he knelt in the straw. “Seems like that’s the only time these sheep have problems with lambing.”
The young ewe looked up at the man kneeling next to her and bleated softly. “I know sweetheart,” he said gently. “It’s a little scary. But you’re doing great. And soon you’ll give birth to a perfect, little lamb.”
The small barn was old and not too strong. It rattled in the wind and the farmer prayed that it would not decide to collapse over them. The ewe bleated again and the farmer sighed. Even if it collapsed, he would stay with her. She was one of his favorite sheep. He smiled to himself and shook his head, they were all his favorite sheep. They had developed the kind of bond that only farmers who raised sheep understood, the trust the sheep had in their shepherd.
Suddenly a bright light shone outside the barn, it’s rays filtering through the crevices between the old, warped boards. The farmer’s eyes widened and his heart skipped a beat. There was no natural way for that light to appear near his barn. They were in an isolated location, away from the town lights and miles from a regular road. He started to stand, to investigate the cause, when the young ewe cried out.
He looked down and could see the lamb’s hooves descending from the birth canal. “Just a little longer, sweetheart,” he crooned, trying to sound calm even though his heart was racing. “Just take it easy.”
More lights seemed to be surrounding the barn. He moved closer to the laboring ewe, protecting her, covering her, willing to risk his life to make sure she was safe. He watched her breathing deepen, her body contract and then relax, and the tiny hooves and nose move forward. Finally, with a loud cry and a contraction that shook her body, the little lamb arrived in the world, slipping out into the clean straw. Immediately, the mother was moving, licking the afterbirth from the tiny animal’s face as the little lamb struggled to stand.
The farmer moved back, knowing that any interference at this point would do more harm than good. He watched the loving ministrations from mother to child with pride. She would be a wonderful mother to her little lamb, until it was time for the lamb to move on.
A beam of light, stronger than the others, shot through the interior of the barn. Picking up his shepherd’s crook, he stood, ready to chase away whatever threat was close to his flock. The straw fell from his clothing as he strode from the barn into the dark night.
His breath caught in his throat as he looked at the glowing object hovering several feet above the ground in the middle of his barnyard. He’d never seen a ghost before, but what else could this thing be? And, was it trying to hurt his flock?
He gripped his crook tighter and walked forward to meet the creature. He was only a few feet away when it slowly turned and the farmer gazed upon its face.
Fear seized his heart and he stood, paralyzed, before the being.
The being looked down at the farmer and spoke, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
Happy Friday! Merry Christmas!!!