Luke 2:14 – "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

Relief flooded Joseph's mind as he and Mary approached the usually quiet, but now bustling little town of Bethlehem. Clouds of dust swirled around them as their fellow travelers whipped their tired donkeys, urging them to go faster; and groups of weary and irritated visitors pushed and shoved their way to the hostels in order to find accommodation.

Joseph prodded his patient donkey to pick up her pace, all the while keeping his eye on Mary, slumped as far as she could on the neck of the donkey. He must soon find a place for the night. He had tried at inn after inn, with the same response. "Sorry Sir, but we are full." "No room. No room." The words throbbed in his head. Desperate and discouraged, he lifted his eyes to the heavens. The Son of God soon would be born. He had to find place for Mary to lie down. He entered yet another inn and was given the same answer: "Sorry, sir. The last room has been taken." As the dejected Joseph left the inn to join Mary, waiting just outside, he heard the innkeeper calling after him. "Wait Sir. I do have a stable at the back of the Inn. It isn't much of a place to bed down your pregnant wife, but it is all I have to offer. You are welcome to stay there for the night."

And so it was that Mary "brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger…" Christ was born. Joseph looked down on his wife and newborn Son. He sent up another prayer to the heavens. How thankful and proud he was to be the "step father" of the Son of God.

Shepherds in a nearby field, who had watched the hordes of travelers pouring into Bethlehem a few hours earlier, had now settled back into their usual routine. They weren't surprised at the number of visitors to their quiet town. They knew about Caesar’s decree and about the taxing. But on this still night something seemed different. Well, it was just their imagination. They built their usual fire to ward off the deepening coolness of the night. They began their usual tales, told to pass the dark and lonely hours. Their sheep slept quietly nearby. But something was different. It was unusually dark. The only light to penetrate the extreme darkness was the glow of their small pit fire.

Suddenly the sky burst into brightness. The shepherds looked up. "And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid."

An angel! That meant they would die. Everyone knew that if you saw an angel it meant you would die. The Shepherds were terrified. They huddled together, hugging one another... But wait! The angel began to speak: "Don't be afraid. I have brought you good news."

"Good news! What good news?" These unspoken words spun around in the minds of the awestruck shepherds.

"Behold I bring you good tiding of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord and this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."

The shepherds fell apart from each other, staring up into the heavens. The whole sky lit up. Beside the one Herald Angel, stood a myriad of other heavenly bodies. Awestruck, the humble shepherds listened. "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." The shepherds had never heard anything so glorious. They were spellbound. They were speechless. They stood gazing up at the sky… But now the angels were gone. They were alone. What did it all mean?

For the next few minutes the shepherds didn't speak. Each was lost in his own thoughts. During their long night watches the shepherds often talked about the rotten world. Some of them related stories of their childhood how that their parents had told them that someday a Redeemer would come to take them out of their miserable life. Someday a King would come to relieve them of the tyranny of the Roman Empire. Someday. Someday. Someday.

Then one of the older shepherds spoke: "Let's go. Let's leave our sheep in the care of the Most High and go and find this wonderful thing that has come to pass."

All at once the other shepherds agreed. They picked up their staffs and started down the hill into the now-quiet town of Bethlehem. Following the angels' directions, they found the stable. Quietly entering, they saw Mary and Joseph and the Baby lying in a manger. With heads bowed, they worshiped the Lord God of Heaven who had sent their Redeemer. With simple faith they believed that He was the promised Deliverer that the world had waited so long for.

The shepherds, silent and humbled, left the stable. But as they went back to their flocks they glorified God. And they didn't keep this good news to themselves. They spread the word to everyone they came in contact with. Many who heard the shepherds' tale scoffed. Many just wondered. After all, who could believe simple shepherds? They were forever fabricating stories. What else did they have to do as they sat on the hillsides looking after a bunch of dumb sheep?

Mary heard of the shepherds' stories too. As she sat rocking her Son, she silently praised God that He had chosen a simple country girl to be the Mother of God's Son. She praised God that He had sent simple shepherds to be the heralds of this Good News. She praised God for giving her a simple carpenter to be her husband, to love her and protect her, despite the scandal that had spread. She silently praised God, and she kept all these things and locked them away in her heart. Some day she would think of them again.

© Helen Dowd

About Helen: Besides having graduated from Bible college in Three Hills, Alberta, Canada, Helen Dowd has received certificates from two international writing courses, and from business college. She spends her time at her computer, writing stories about pets and life and general, as well as poetry, inspirational articles, Bible studies, etc. Her writings can be found on her website: -- Email address: