The night is ablaze, and for an instant every dark hollow is illuminated. Now a steady warmth proceeds from the sky, blanketing the sleeping sheep and eager herdsmen in silver light. You have never felt more alive. Your heart seems to have exploded within you. Could it be? Could this be the very thing pointing you toward that which you seek?
You are startled by a touch on your arm. You look over to see one of your companion’s hands gripping your coat sleeve, and the other pointing toward the light. His countenance is that of wonder. “It is His star.”
At once your heart beats assent to this statement. “Whose star?” you ask, your mind still unsure of what this could mean.
“Why the One who called me – and I suspect, the One who called you. The One who made a covenant with me. He is fulfilling His Word – no, more than that – I sense His Word is drawing near, becoming . . . becoming . . . well I don’t know what it’s becoming. In my case it became a son. A living being, flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone.”
“This son, who is he? How did he fulfill the promise?” you inquire, hoping to hear the fellow traveler’s story at last.
The man laughs, a chuckle at first. Then he laughs hard, slapping his bony knees and shaking his woolly beard at length.
You are rather taken aback at this response. “Tell me, what’s so funny?”
“My son,” he says with a smile. “We named him after his mother’s laugh. A laugh that began in disbelief and ended in joy. I thought my days of fatherhood were long past. I even told the angel so. And here they were just beginning. Through him, I would have many sons and daughters. Through him, a blessing was birthed and would flow to every corner of the earth. And I was to be the father of it all. I can hardly conceive of His favour to me. When that boy was born, He loosed all the stars of heaven and let blessings fly – to me. I forgot even the idea of barrenness. My little prince, so peaceful in my arms, content with a lullaby. How great my joy. I still laugh to think of it.”
The merriment on the patriarch’s face gives him the appearance of an earlier age. For the first time this night, you smile, and feel warmed by more than the watchmen’s fire. It does seem peaceful here. The old man’s words turn over in your head. A blessing to every corner . . . even yours? And through a son you have never seen? How is this possible?
You turn to the old man – you realize you don’t even know his name – and begin to form the question, when all at once your eyes are blinded by a great flash and you find yourself thrown to the cold ground. You reach to help the old man who lies beside you, but his grip finds you first, and it is strong. If the shepherds’ fire had expanded a hundredfold it would not compare to the intense yet beauteous light now surrounding the entire gathering. The eyes of the herdsmen on the ground around you are filled with fear. You can hear the sheep bleating and stamping about in confusion. If it were not for the steadying hand of your companion, you would surely tremble into the earth, though its rich fragrance reassures you of the reality of this moment. From the center of the light a large figure appears. You can only stare dumbstruck at him, but the old man raises his head in recognition.
“Fear not!” Though his voice is as thick as thunder, it is soft and brings a calm over the crowd of humans and animals. “I come not to frighten you, but to announce a great joy!” You are amazed at this shining man, and his words seem to be directed to you. You open your arms in embrace of them. “A son, the Saviour of promise has been born to you. He is the Chosen One of God… You will find Him in a manger.” Suddenly, a song bursts forth from every direction, accompanied by countless figures of light. Every particle of heaven and nature is singing.
Within your very soul, hopes and fears dance and swirl about, converging upon this heavenly Word. You feel it, at last, the birth of joy. You want to run, and you are sure glory will meet you on the way. Yes, this is the way, this is the way to Him.