I suppose my last, after thirty plus years of writing a story to read to the children in church on Christmas Day:

Shepherds Hear A Message
Christmas Day 2021

Once upon a time, a long time ago, there was a little angel who lived in the village of Landau in Angeland with her mother and her father. Her name was Oseena.  

One day  Oseena heard that God was looking for an angel to do a special job on the distant planet called Earth. Oseena had heard about Earth. She knew that strange beings called “people” lived there. She had heard that God worried a lot about these people. They seemed to be unable to get along together. They were always speaking angrily to one another and getting into fights. They were greedy and sometimes horribly mean. They had lost hope and forgotten about peace and joy. There was no love among them. These Earth people were terribly unhappy.

God had tried to help them see that there could be a different way to live. God had sent messengers to try wake them up and call them back to the light and beauty of their true nature. But Earth people would not listen to the wise ones God sent. They were too busy worrying about their crops and their cattle. They put their hope in money. Peace was gone from their land. Earth people had become unable to hear the message of love and joy that God kept sending.

So, God decided on a desperate plan. God was going to send a special messenger to the sad Earth people. God’s own son would go from heaven to help the people see how beautiful and full of light they really were. God was sure that when Earth people saw their true beauty in his son, they would remember the goodness and gentleness hidden in their own hearts.

God’s plan was all set. But, first God needed a helper. So, God sent his most important Angel-Messenger to hunt for just the right angel for this special mission. The Messenger’s name was Angelscout and, one day, he came to Landau. He went to the centre of the village. All the angels of Landau came to try to convince Angelscout that they were the one God was looking for to help Earth people find in themselves the hope, peace, joy and love that was always in their hearts even when they could not see these beautiful gifts.

Oseena had heard that Angelscout was in her village and she wished she might see him. She had never seen such an important angel. But her home was far from the village square and she was a small angel. And, while her parents were away working in the fields, she had many chores to do. Oseena knew she would not get to meet Angelscout.  She was sad as the day began to darken towards night. Oseena wondered if Angelscout had found the helper he was looking for.

That evening Oseena was preparing dinner. And that’s when it happened. She heard a sound, or maybe it wasn’t even a sound, more like a vibration. It felt warm  and strong. Then she saw a glow coming from the village square; it began to shine more and more brightly, until finally, Oseena saw the most beautiful angel she had ever seen. He came towards her and she knew this must be God’s Messenger-Angel.

Oseena stood outside her small home as Angelscout approached. When he was close enough to almost touch, he crouched on the ground and looked into Oseena’s eyes. She felt that Angelscout was looking deep inside her heart. Everything was still and silent.

Then, in the quiet, she heard Angelscout’s calm steady voice. He asked, “What is your name child?”

Oseena didn’t feel frightened. Somehow with this angel looking into her eyes, she felt peaceful and strong, steady, like his voice.

“My name is Oseena.”  

“It is a beautiful name” Angelscout replied. “Do you know what it means?”

“No one has ever told me,” she said.

“Your name means that you are an angel who can see.”

“All angels can see,” Oseena replied in a puzzled voice.

“That is true,” said Angelscout. “But  you are an angel who sees deeply; you see what is in a person’s heart because your heart is open to God; your heart is open to love.”

Oseena wondered about these strange words.

Then, Angelscout said, “That is why I have chosen you to come to Earth with me to perform a special task. Tomorrow night I am going to travel down to the hills around the village of Bethlehem. There I will wake up a group of shepherds sleeping in the hill country with their flock. I will tell them that God’s son has been born in Bethlehem and that they must go to see this miracle. When I have finished speaking a great angel choir will appear in the night sky. Their song will promise hope and peace and joy and love to all the Earth people. That’s when your job starts.

“You see, shepherds don’t find it easy to believe in miracles. They are a tough suspicious bunch. But I know that there is one shepherd who will believe and who will have the courage and strength to convince the others to go to Bethlehem to see the baby. Your job is to find that one shepherd who trusts my message.”

“But how will I know which one it is?” Oseena asked.

“Just look,” Angelscout answered. “You will know who is the one who has believed my words.”

So the next night, Oseena found herself travelling across the heavens down down down to Earth and standing beside Angelscout as he spoke. She saw that when the shepherds first woke they were bewildered and looked frightened. Then the choir began to sing. Oseena couldn’t move; it was so beautiful. Surely no one could doubt Angelscout’s words when they heard that song.

But, Oseena saw that the shepherds started arguing among themselves. She saw that some were getting angry. Then she felt Angelscout push her gently towards the shepherds. She went down onto the hillside and began to walk among them. They seemed to be unaware of her presence; so she just looked and looked at each one. Finally, Oseena saw one small shepherd child alone on the edge of the group. Oseena looked into this child’s face and knew that she was the one. She realized that, unlike the other shepherds, this child could see her.

Oseena asked, “What is your name child?”

The little girl shepherd didn’t seem frightened to meet a stranger in the night. She answered boldly, “My name is Seleena.”

Oseena said, “You must speak to the shepherds. You must convince them that the angel’s words are true and that they must go to Bethlehem to see the baby.”

Seleena was very still and quiet. Then she said, “I will try. But they don’t usually listen very well, especially not to little girls.”

Oseena said, “Trust the voice in your heart and speak. They will listen.”

Seleena climbed up onto a large rock near the shepherds. She cried out “Stop!” in the biggest voice she could make.

The shepherds were so surprised, they fell silent and turned to look at Seleena.

“You must believe,” she said. “The angel’s words are true. We must go to Bethlehem and find the child who has come to open all peoples’ hearts to the presence of hope, peace, joy and love.”

Nobody said anything. They just stood looking at her.

Finally, the oldest shepherd said, “Seleena is right. Lead the way child. I will come with you.”

Quickly Seleena climbed down from her rock and started for Bethlehem with the old man following behind. Slowly, the other shepherds came along, until they were all walking along the path to the village where Jesus had been born.

And that is how shepherds, who usually don’t believe in almost anything, came to be the first witnesses to the birth of love and beauty that day in Bethlehem. That is how shepherds came to remember the gifts of hope, peace, joy and love that live always in every person’s heart.