The Shepherd Comes at Christmas

Shepherds ponder their legacy –

to some a pitiful stain on history.

Shepherd staff

Unlike seeing the evening with anticipation of a promising morn

no contemplation of hope lies before them –

they grow accustom to the stench of sheep

as the flock lingers on them like uncleanness hanging from mortality

but they and the sheep are one as the Father and Word are one

forever an undivided community.

The shepherds care for them as their own,

and the sheep know the shepherd’s voice.

The sun slowly disappears below the hills

Casting a long shadow on the forsaken-like bitter wildernessnight moon

as the shepherds’ contemplate the barren ground –

their eyes surveying the land for enemies of the flock.

They know no sleep

Just snatching slumber

Curled in the threads of their subsistence

gnarly fingers wrapped tightly around their staff

eyes squinting watching for treachery traversing the shadows

silhouettes of maliciousness stalking prey – their innocent charges.

They lean on staffs with rods

ready to fend off these night visitors

wolves and roaring lions ready to devour the sheep.

Among the forgotten and oppressed

these pastoral overseers of the helpless

protectors from the ruthless

earn a pittance for their toil.

They live apart from other classes – nomadic – migrants of their era.

Darkness closes unsettlingly around them – anticipating the light in due time –

as it slithers silently into the deep darkness afraid of the Light.

Sporadic bleating from the flock breaks the calm

while in the distance a census of lights commands

flickers in Bethlehem like lamps from virgins anticipating the Bridegroom.

As the evening draws deeper, the night fires become fewer with three remaining lit overseeing Advent.

The shepherds gaze heavenward as one star seems unusually bright

leaving a mystified look on rough, drawn, and dried faces

like weary mystics troubled by three trees they pass on the horizon outside the city

as they follow the star on camels.Wise man

One shepherd stares up at a star growing in size

As its point kisses Bethlehem.

Suddenly angel voices fill the expanse above;

heaven’s symphony burst through the clouds

announcing that God touches humanity with grace and truth.

The Shepherd rejoices with His sheep

as He comes to meet them in their humanity.

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