Third Place Winner Spiritual Talk Place Contest 12-2016
I was attending church services one Christmas eve. There was a young man sitting there dressed in clothing that appeared to be customary of Israeli first century clothing. So this got my attention. I thought perhaps the church had planned a Christmas play and I wasn't aware of it. I approached the boy and asked him if I could sit with him.
"Yes you may", he answered. "May I ask what your name is?"
"I'm Ariel", I answered. "I attend church here. I don't recall seeing you around here before though. Since you're here, perhaps you can tell me if Pastor Wolfe planned and rehearsed a Christmas play with you children without our knowledge. I ask because you look like you'd be playing the role of one of the shepherds who was in the field the night the angels announced the birth of the Savior."
"I look like one of the shepherds because I am one of the shepherds", the boy replied, making me think he had blown a fuse. "My name is Eli son of Jacob son, son of Nathaniel, son of Enoch, son of Seth, son of Joseph...."
"Shhh", I told him "it will be okay."
"You should have been there the boy said. We were out in the grazing land about a day's walk from Bethlehem. It was a warm evening and the stars were shining so bright it looked like you could reach up and pluck them right out of the sky. There was a new star in the sky that night. It was by far brighter than any of the others. The funny thing is that the new star disappeared after some time and was never seen again. Our sheep were resting and all was well."
I wanted to tell the child to be quiet and allow me to listen to the service instead of his wild tales. However the way he told the story had me sitting on the edge of my seat. As I glanced around I noticed that everybody else, including the preacher had stopped what they were doing and were listening to the boy tell his story.
"All of a sudden" the boy said "the entire sky lit up. It was very frightening to us because we had never seen such a thing. A loud voice spoke to us and said 'Do not fear. We have come to bring you tidings of hope and good cheer. Unto you this night, in the city of David is born a Savior who shall be named Christ.'
"Then there was the most beautiful singing anybody has ever heard. The singing was more beautiful than ten thousand harps, lyres, and stringed instruments. Far more beautiful even than the musicians David put in the tabernacle. The other shepherds and I stared at the sight in silence not knowing what to say. The angels kept singing and we joined them. They sang "Holy, holy, holy, worthy is he has come in the name of the Lord."
Everybody in the church had gathered around the boy now. Each of us wanted to ask him questions but nobody wanted to interrupt his story. It seemed incredible to believe that this child had actually witnessed the first noel, yet the way he told the story seemed like an actual first hand account, not like something he had learned.
"The singing went on for some minutes and then stopped", the boy said. "The other shepherds and I discussed what it meant. Could this be the birth of the Promised One? We didn't know. One thing we were certain of though. We were certain we had just been visited by messengers of God. It's an experience we never forgot. We made a promise among ourselves that we would never tell anybody what we saw that night. We knew however that we were visited by angels."
The little boy didn't say another word. I prepared to ask him the first of the many questions circulating in my head when he placed his fingers across his lips signalling me to be quiet. Then he disappeared as if he were never there.
Third Place Winner Spiritual Talk Place Contest December 2016