Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Advent 2016

A Shepherdess

 

(This is not so much a story as a prayer.  A prayer that we will not give in to despair.)

 

            It was the darkest night she could remember.  No moon, and the clouds covered the stars.  With so little light the sheep and her fellow shepherds were barely visible.  The darkness of the night allowed her the cover to turn to other types of darkness.  As she lay on the cold, hard ground, she felt the familiar fear and pain overtake her.  She cried, as silently as she could so as not to wake the others, when she thought of her loss of faith and trust, her anxiety for the future, for herself, and for others.

            But then the darkness - both forms - disappeared.  A light, brighter than any lantern could possibly produce, pierced the sky.  She had never seen such a light - it should not have been possible.  The others were waking up around her, trembling with fear, but she felt strangely calm.  A voice that was at once both booming and soothingly quiet filled the sky, the field, and her heart:  "Fear not!"

            The voice seemed to come from a great glowing figure in the sky wreathed in the brilliant heavenly light.  It spoke of good news and great joy for everyone.  (Even, she assumed, for lowly, terrified shepherds.)  And a child - the shining figure spoke of a child, a Savior.  Then that figure was joined by dozens of others, who began to sing the most beautiful music she had ever heard, a music that reached all the way through her, that filled her with a joy she had never before known.

            As suddenly as they had appeared, the figures disappeared and the sky once again went dark.  But the darkness felt different this time - less oppressive.  As a group, they decided they must go and see this child even though that meant leaving the sheep behind.  Normally someone would always stay, but they agreed that this was something that must not be missed by any of them.  Anyway, it felt like the sheep were already being looked after, perhaps by a kind of heavenly Good Shepherd.

            At the stable, the shepherds gazed in amazement at the infant.  Though he looked like every other newborn, there was just something about him that provided a previously unknown peace and hope.  Each shepherd felt their fear and despair subside.  They left as new women and men, and as they went, knowing they could not keep such good news to themselves, they shared their new hope with the world.  While fear did not disappear completely, despair was staved off by a sleeping infant.

 

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."  John 1:5

 

-- Emma Rountree

 

 

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