11. The shepherds get a surprise!

Can you imagine  a cold winters night? Smell the smoke rising from the small fire. Smell the sheep in the pen next to you. Smelly?  Feel the hard ground under you as you sit by the fire, the cold seeping in. Look up and see the stars shining brightly in the dark night sky, and in the distance you can see the faint lights of fires burning in the town of Bethlehem. Look around and see a bunch of young guys sitting with you. They look to be about 10 – 16 years old. These are shepherds. They have the important job of looking after these sheep. Here they are, on this hillside

But they are excited! They have such a story to share! Everyone is talking at once, the night air filled with laughter and joy and storytelling. And then, every so often they fall silent, and you can see on their faces that they are amazed. They are at peace. Something incredible has happened to them that has made them so joyful.

On a night just like tonight they were sitting around their fire. The sheep were grazing nearby, someone had just finished cooking up some bread. All of a sudden the darkness disappeared and a blazing light shone down on them. 

An angel sent from God suddenly appeared above them and the whole field was glowing with light. The angel had an incredible message, as angels often do. “Don’t be afraid”, the angel said. A good place to start, because the shepherds were terrified. Even the sheep stopped munching grass and looked on in amazement. 

“I have good news for you, which will make everyone happy. This very day in King David’s home town a Saviour was born for you.”
King David’s home town, that’s Bethlehem! They knew where that was!
“You will find a baby dressed up warm and lying on a bed of hay.”

And then, just when the shepherds thought it couldn’t get any more amazing, the whole sky lit up with angels. They were everywhere. And they started singing. They praised God with beautiful voices. Never had the shepherds heard such a beautiful sound.
The Shepherd's Field, Bethlehem.
Now: Luke tells us that the shepherds were guarding their sheep in fields near Bethlehem. People have asked the question: Which field? Where did this happen? The answer is that we just don’t know. It could have been anywhere in the fields and hills surrounding the town.  Some people think it is this field here, so they have built a church to help people to remember the shepherds. Even if it isn’t this field, it is still a beautiful spot to visit and remember what happened that night. There is a garden and a lovely church and a fountain.

Have a closer look at this fountain. It has a shepherd on the top and sheep around the outside! Can you see the water coming out the sheep's mouth?


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