Posted in Book Excerpt

Shepherds and a Manger

The following is an excerpt from Reflections from a Pondering Heart. This Biblical fictionalization reads like a journal from Mary’s perspective.

Amazon PH CoverFour men and one goat followed Joseph into the cramped barn. The cozy atmosphere became oppressive.

“In a manger, as we were told,” one of the shepherds said.

“Praise Yahweh,” said another.

In the dim light, I could tell they were shepherds by their distinctive headdresses and the odor of sheep clinging to them. I smiled as the goat pushed its way between two of the men and stuck its nose in the manger.

“Get out of that,” a younger voice said from the back.

The goat stopped, staring at me for a moment and then nuzzling the baby. Jesus’ eyes snapped open. I prepared myself for his cries. None came.

Instead, he looked toward the group of men. Based on my time caring for my newborn siblings, I knew his sight was limited. Still, he seemed to stare at each one of them. A grizzled man in the front swiped at his cheeks.

“An angel startled us this evening.”

“This morning, really.”

“A couple hours ago. Told us the Christ had been born in Bethlehem.”

Rather than fumbling over each other, their sentences seemed to complete the one before it. Awe and excitement laced the words. Something extraordinary had happened to them this night. I wanted to hear all about it.

“Tell the whole story.” I pushed myself into a more upright position, fingers still stroking my son’s head. When I spoke, Jesus turned his head toward me.

“One angel lit up the sky,” the old shepherd said.

“My heart nearly stopped,” another said.

“Told us not to fear. He had good tidings for all people.”

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”[1] This from the youngest shepherd, still behind the others. Could he even see the baby?

“Gave us a sign.”

The old shepherd nodded. “Said we would find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”[2]

I covered my gasp of shock with one hand. I don’t think any of them noticed, but I saw Joseph’s gaze sweep across me.

“Then, a whole crowd of angels filled the sky.”

“They chanted and praised God. Better than all the worship I’ve heard up in Jerusalem.”

“Glory to God in the highest.”

“On earth, peace, good will toward men.”[3] The young shepherd’s voice crackled with enthusiasm.

“Messiah is come,” the old shepherd said. This time I knew he wiped a tear from his face with the sleeve of his robe.

A strange aura of worship entered the room. In turn, each of the shepherds knelt before the manger. The babe turned his dark eyes toward the strangers, and I got the impression he saw each one.

The emotional elder shepherd knelt on the packed dirt floor after the others had finished. He reached out a spotted and wrinkled hand toward the baby’s forehead. Anxiety flickered across my stomach. No mother wanted a stranger touching her child.

The way the baby stared at the old man made my tension subside. Rather than crying in the face of strangers, he seemed calm and accepting. I reminded myself that he was no ordinary child. It wouldn’t be the last time I had to do that, either.

“The savior, Christ the Lord,” the old shepherd whispered.

His gnarled fingers grazed the babe’s hair before the meat of his hand rested on my son’s forehead, standard form for a blessing. “Praise the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob for fulfilling His promises. Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised.”

Tears streaked down the old man’s face. Yet, his eyes remained on the babe. He seemed unashamed of the emotions welling from deep within.

[1] Luke 2:11; [2] Luke 2:12; [3] Luke 2:14

The second edition of Reflections from a Pondering Heart releases today. This edition contains a study guide. Purchase NOW and download a FREE devotional of Psalm 119. Follow this link to the author’s website. Use the purchase links found there. The code for the free devotional is at the back of the book.

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Author:

Freelance writer and editor whose background in education and BA in English Language & Literature amps her love of all things books. Twenty years of parenting and 26 of marriage gives unique insight to her preferred audiences of women, young adults, and teenagers.

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