I looked at my time piece...8:30 PM. All was relatively quiet in Bethlehem, though me and my buddy had broke up a fight near the town well earlier in the evening.
My feet were aching and I was ready to be snuggled in bed next to my wife, though I still had several hours to go.
In order to pass the time, I decided to patrol around the fields where shepherds hung out with their flocks. They were a lowly bunch who pretty much stuck to themselves, but at times these ruffians could get rowdy, so thought it well to head their direction.
About 10:00 PM, I had just sat down next to an olive tree when the sheep all began to stir and bleat. It wasn't uncommon for them to occasionally move about, but this time there seemed to be something strange, something foreboding, so I stood up ready to engage any thief who might be sneaking into the camp.
I scanned the country side two and fro. The moon's glow cast shadows across the rugged hillsides, playing tricks on my eyes. Then without warning, a brilliance of light flashed across the sky first this way, then that. I froze like a dead man. What was it?!
By now the shepherds were all awake, calling out to one another in fright. The sheep were running two and fro not knowing if the world was ending or if another bad storm had taken them by surprise.
I came to my senses and wrapped my hand firmly around my sword still snugly fastened to my hip. As I readied myself for the worst, an angelic being appeared in the sky. Terror filled my soul. I wanted to run, but that was not my call of duty. Instead, I fell to my knees. The complete feeling of inadequacy overtook my entire soul, until he spoke, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people."
I managed to lift my head. The shepherds were all kneeling as well. I guess we all felt the weight of this being's heavenly presence.
He continued, "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
I regained my wits about me, and suddenly felt strangely empowered. Standing to my feet, I looked back towards Bethlehem then quickly back to the sky. A multitude of angels were now in view praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
I knew right away that I was experiencing something extraordinary. The guys would never believe this, and would probably accuse me of drinking on duty, though I was completely sober and more alert than ever before.
The shepherds had formed a line and were herding the sheep back towards the town. Though the angelic host was now gone, I could still make out a slight glow in the sky. Instead of heavenly choirs, I heard the bells tinkling around the sheep's necks. Indeed this was a night to remember.
Making my way back to town, I, too, wanted to find this babe whom the angels proclaimed. Could it be? I had heard stories told about a Messiah who was to come to earth and save his people. Was this the one? Why would he come as a babe and not a warrior?
I picked up the pace now imagining what I might find. Just outside the town gate, I caught glimpse of the shepherds and their flocks. They had gathered around a small indention in the rocky hillside. Inside, I could make out a faint glow of candlelight.
All was quiet. The sheep didn't even stir, but stood silently grazing. I nudged my way past the crowd and gathered my thoughts as I approached the mouth of the cave. Inside sitting on musty straw, was a young man barely old enough to shave. Next to him sat a young girl leaning over a manger - her long dark hair caressing the cheek of brand new baby.
I gasped as I took in the scene. It was just as the angel had said. Who were these folks? Did they have permission to be here? Why weren't they in the Inn, instead of this musty stable? I knew I would need to report this strange sight, but at the same time, I replayed the things I had witnessed over and over in my thoughts.
Quietly, I left the scene and made my way back to headquarters. Once there, I tried in earnst to put my night into words. Here is what I wrote:
At approximately 10:15 PM, I witnessed a strange phenomenon in the sky. The shepherds fled on foot to Jonah of Bethlehem's livestock stalls just outside the city limits. I pursued and arrived on scene, finding a young couple from Nazareth with a newborn child. The shepherds described a tale of angels sending them to that spot, but I deemed them harmless and of no further threat. They dispersed without incident. - Sgt. Abe of Bethlehem P.D.
P.S. I think I just witnessed a miracle. Merry Christmas to all!