A Lamb is Born
By Danie Marie
The moon, no more than a sliver, provided little light in the night sky. But a single star shone like a beacon. For over a month I admired its twinkling, pure brightness. Never before had I seen anything like it. I could gaze at it for hours, and hoped to find out why it came into existance.
And soon I would. It hung in the night sky in the direction of Judea where I was headed. In a few days I hoped to be directly beneath its light.
My mind full of anticipation, I made my way in its direction sensing something special in this unusual star’s appearance.
Throughout the day the bleating of sheep filled my ears as I prodded my small flock along with my staff. The walk seemed endless. But late in the afternoon the second day we came to a small field where I could graze them. I strolled to the top of a nearby grassy knoll and turned full circle. This was the perfect spot to enjoy an open view of our surroundings while they ate.
I unrolled my mat and reclined to rest my weary bones, and picked up a few small rocks. I tossed them one by one at a dry shrub while toying a blade of grass with my tongue. "I wonder what I’ll find once I'm beneath that star?"
A light breeze whisked across the field and carried the soft bleating of sheep to my ears. I smiled. Their gentle sounds soothed my soul. Mary, a sheep I helped deliver two years before, had given birth herself to a pure, spotless male, about a month prior to our journey.
She had brought him forth without a fuss during the night. Mother and baby walked up the hill toward me. I rubbed Mary's head between her ears and put my hand out to her lamb. “How are you faring little one?” I laughed as he nibbled my fingers. In no time at all it'd be time for him to be weaned.
With only a couple of hours of daylight left, I led my flock to a nearby stream. Kneeling down, I splashed cool water on my face. Refreshed, I stood and kept watch until the last sheep had its fill.
“Come, come,” I called, and led them farther downstream to a bend where brush offered protection from predators.
Once the sheep settled down I cleared a small area on the rocky soil, spread out my mat, sat down, and opened my satchel. Inside, I found the bread and dried fish Mother had neatly wrapped for my journey. I took the wineskin from my shoulder and washed down the dry food. Leaning on my elbows, I watched that special star brighten as night set in. It was the first star to appear and the last to fade at dawn. As I listened to the sounds of soft bleating and gurgling water, my eyes grew heavy.
I roused during the night, and by the light of the star was able to scan our surroundings. No predators in sight, the sheep safe, I reclined and gazed at the star. The closer I get, the more sure I am you're somewhere over Bethlehem in Judea. Within two days I’ll know the mystery of why you arrived. I smiled and rubbed my hands together.
The final day of our journey upon us and eager to start, in the pinkish glow of dawn, I accounted for all in the flock. So far I hadn't lost a single one. We should make it to Judea before nightfall.
The sun high, I stopped to have a bite to eat and rest the flock. Once Mary's lamb had nursed, I urged them on. After an hour or so, I lifted her baby onto my shoulders.
Thinking about that star sent a thrill surging through my body. But before I could venture off into town, I had to find a safe place to bed down my flock.
A farmer allowed me to pasture them in one of his fields. I let the lamb nurse, and then put him over my shoulders to keep me company as I began my search. People milled about the city laughing, singing and drinking, oblivious to the star. How can they ignore it?
Hurrying as fast as I dared through the bustle and noise of the busy streets, I finally edged out of the crowd near the end of town.
I stopped and stared.
There, up ahead, a short distance away, a beam of light from that star shown down on … a cave in the hillside? My breath came in short gasps. It all seemed so simple. So obscure. But I was drawn to it like nothing before.
What's so special about this cave?
I crept forward and soon realized I wasn’t the first to arrive. Others had gotten there before me. Shepherds. They were kneeling.
And there, beneath a beam of light, I saw him. A baby lying in a manger in sweet straw.
“A baby?” I whispered.
One of the shepherds looked over his shoulder. "Come see," he said. He drew me in with an outstretched arm. “His name is Jesus. It means, God Saves. He will be called Emmanuel. Do you know what Emmanuel means?”
Gazing at the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, I shook my head.
“It means, God with us. He is the Lamb of God who will shepherd His people ... the awaited Messiah!”
My eyes widened, and brimming with hot tears, I, too, knelt. The lamb in my arms struggled to free himself and I set him down. He trotted to the end of the manger and lay at the feet of … the True Lamb.
The Lamb of God.
"'And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel'" (Matthew 2:6).
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
Love ~ Danie Marie