Enjoy our rather quirky take on the Christmas story...
The Angel Gabriel here, reporting from Heaven.
Lots of excitement here. Ever since Adam and Eve messed up in the Garden of Eden we’ve been looking forward to what’s about to happen. It’s been a long wait, but God has told us he’s ready now for his plan to unfold.
It’s been a busy time already for me. I had to visit old Zechariah and give him some news. He didn’t believe a word I was saying, so the poor fellow has been struck dumb.
I have to speak to Mary soon; that could be quite tricky too, as she will not at all be expecting the news I have to give to her. I’ll let you know how that goes later.
There’s lots to get on with now in preparation for the great day. I’m just off to check that the angelic choir has got the right music and their robes have been laundered. They might grumble a bit about having to learn a new song, but it’s only a two-liner so they should be fine. I can’t wait for it all to kick off!
"Hello! I had better introduce myself. I am a donkey belonging to Joseph, a young fellow here in Nazareth. I don't have a name as donkeys are generally not considered important enough to warrant a name, although I am sometimes referred to as "Little", due to my small stature! Nazareth is a village in Galilee, Israel. Nothing much happens here and life is pretty dull and boring! The whole country is part of the Roman empire and so we are under Roman rule, although they don't really interest themselves in this backwater. Joseph (my owner) isn't a bad sort. He treats me reasonably well and we have an understanding (I can get quite stroppy and awkward if I feel he is expecting too much work from me). He has followed in the family business of carpentry and is the carpenter for the village. I help to move stuff around when he goes from one job to another. I wish I had something more exciting to tell you, but thank you for taking an interest"
Wow the greatest news I have ever heard. Thank you God for everything. An angel visited me today and told me the Lord above all is going to give me and Joseph a family. What a great day! But I am a bit scared as I think about it all...
My life seems to become stranger by the day… but ever more wonderful I have to say.
It all started the day my Zechariah came home from the Temple and was unable to speak. I found out the angel Gabriel had appeared to him (lots of sign-language and drawings) saying I would be having a baby boy but Zechariah was so disbelieving he’d been struck dumb.
I must admit, I was doubtful too… a baby at my age… I’d long since given up on my hope of becoming a mother. But it is true! I am now six months with child. As for Zechariah, I wonder if he’ll talk again?
Then only today my cousin Mary came to visit. I was so pleased just to have someone to chat to but she had some amazing news. She announced that she’s having a baby boy too and although she’s not married, her child is to be Jesus, the Son of God. The joy of it made my baby stir inside me and we both just immediately rejoiced and praised God.
Zechariah was asked for a comment, but he just flung his arms around a lot!
Hello there. I’m Joseph – I make things with wood, ‘You name it, I carve it’. Sorry, please forgive the advert. Let me tell you a secret, I’ve asked a beautiful girl to marry me. She’s a bit younger than me but I love her and she loves me, that’s what counts isn’t it? We were waiting until I raised enough money and the Priest was free to marry us but I’ve just heard some terrible news and I don’t know what I am going to do. Mary has just sent me word that she is pregnant – pregnant, I can’t believe it. No please, I am a respectful man, I am not responsible but that makes it worse! I love her but the shame, the disgrace. What should I do?
Being pregnant is hard! Having to carry another human being inside of you has a lot of pain, but knowing there's greatness coming out of it is going to motivate me to keep going. And I know God is watching me so I trust my pregnancy is going to go well. But not having Joseph by my side at this moment is difficult and I am not sure I can do all this by myself by just praying. I do thank the lord for this pregnancy, but there’s so much I don’t know…
Zechariah sStill silent, but is brilliant at 1st century charades and Pictionary®.
I sat up all night worrying what to do and I had finally decided that I had to quietly break things off when something strange happened. I thought I was awake but I must have nodded off when suddenly it was like someone had turned the lights on in my room. I opened my eyes and there was, ok this is going to sound a bit strange, there was an Angel. Look I know I hadn’t had much sleep but I hadn’t been drinking and I wasn’t hallucinating. There was this figure standing in the centre of the light calling my name, “Joseph, Joseph”, they said, I have an important message for you concerning Mary. I felt sick at this point, even the mention of her name made my heart flutter. ‘Ok’, I said still not sure if I was awake or iWise Personning things, ‘I am listening’, ‘Mary is pregnant’ said the Angel quietly, ‘I know, please don’t remind me, it is a terrible mess’, I shouted, it breaks my heart. I was on the verge of breaking down but the Angel smiled at me and said, ‘Joseph don’t worry yourself, she has been blessed by God’s own conception, she will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus. He comes to save God’s people from their mistakes and wrongdoing’. This was a lot for me to take in especially when I didn’t now whether I was awake or asleep but the Angel then gave me a message I could understand, ‘Now stop worrying and marry that beautiful girl you are so in love with and help her fulfil God’s plan.’ I was definitely awake now, my heart was singing, my feet were dancing, my Mary and I, we are going to be married. Yes, I am so happy.
“He’s seeing angels now?”
“That’s what he said”
“Like a… white sheet in the sky?”
“That’s a ghost”
“Oh yeah.... What’s the difference again?”
“Erm, the good ones sing, the others don’t exist”
“Ah, good system!”
“So, have you been staying in touch with him much?”
“Joseph? Nah, he’s changed. Ever since he met that Mary”
“That’s so true, I spoke to him last week - it’s like the mist has cleared in front of him”
“I know! And his face, it’s like he’s doing this weird thing with his mouth…”
“...Smiling? Yeah I guess, he’s certainly happier”
“Yeah… wait what?”
“Well, let’s face it; she’s pregnant, he’s seeing little green men. And there’s the census to worry about now? I’d give it a week… 21 days at most”
“That’s… oddly specific… the pregnancy stuff is weird, sure. But Joseph is mad about her.”
“You really think he’s going to be sticking around long enough to raise someone else’s child?”
“If it were any other woman, I’d say no. But with Mary? He might just be crazy enough to.”
“Mary, hurry up, it’s time to go, we have a long journey and I want to get there before its dark”. She was trying my patience. We have a long journey to make to Bethlehem for the big Roman count, why do the blessed Romans have to time their counting just when Mary needs to rest. Why is she taking so long and why I am waiting for her anyway? Questions, so many questions, am I doing the right thing? I remember the dream and the smiling Angel but sometimes it is just so hard to trust, but trust I must. This is God’s business not mine, but Mary, please hurry up. The donkey is waiting and he is starting to eat the neighbour’s turnips.
Well, I know I said last time that nothing happens here, it seems I was wrong (unheard of)! There is definitely something going on. Lots of family comings and goings; Joseph has seemed very preoccupied and upset (something to do with Mary, his fiancée).
I really hate to admit it but I was also wrong about the Romans not interfering too much round here as it seems they want everyone to take part in some kind of census malarky. Census?! Quite! It seems this is some kind of typically bureaucratic, tax raising, time wasting exercise thought up by some geezer thousands of miles away in Rome. Everyone has to register in the town that their family's ancestors come from, so we are having to up-sticks and travel all the way to Bethlehem (King David's town) to register, as Joseph is a descendant of King David.
Guess who'll be having to do all the "donkey work" on the journey, if you'll pardon the pun?!
What do I take with me on a long journey? I don’t know how long we’ll be away. It’s quite scary, but I’ve got Joseph and he says he will look after me and be my husband! So happy, but still a bit scared.
I’m so eager to share my latest incredible news! Eight days ago I gave birth to a fine baby boy… yes I know it seemed impossible with my advancing years… but he’s here and I’m both elated and exhausted. He has such a good pair of lungs on him, he has truly broken the silence in our house! All the neighbours have been round to coo over him and share in our joy, asking what we’re going to call him.
Well today was his circumcision and naming day. I think most people thought we would call him Zechariah after his father but I insisted on the name John. Zechariah, still unable to speak, managed to confirm my wishes by writing on a tablet ‘His name is John,’ following the instructions given to him by the Angel Gabriel.
With that, Zachariah began speaking again and started to praise God. It was a joyous moment and news of it has quickly spread around the neighbourhood.
As for the future I’m taking it a day at a time, but I’m certainly convinced God has something really special planned for John’s life.
Right now though, I must grab the chance to get some shut eye whilst John’s fast asleep… it’s been such an exciting day for us all…
Gabriel here again. Things are really moving on now, but first I must tell you about my visit a few months ago to Mary, as this will give you some idea of the amazing character of a central person in the events that are unfolding. God sent me to visit Mary to tell her that she was to have a son. Now, as she was not yet married and was a virgin, I expected her to storm off and I wasn’t sure how I would handle that. She was pretty surprised, but when I explained things she modestly accepted that this was God’s will for her, and ever since then she has been patiently preparing for the birth. She is truly a very remarkable young lady.
In heaven all the preparations are underway. It’s been quite a job getting all the heavenly host together for practices. Some of them are finding the music a little more difficult than they were expecting.
One problem we have is that it’s been a couple of thousand years since an event of this size has taken place and some of the risk assessments have not been updated for a long time. So everyone is having to work very hard to ensure that all goes well on the night. Talking of which, one of my mates has been composing a song which he feels we could inspire a human to write some time in the future to celebrate this great occasion; the first line is, “O Holy Night” – a very appropriate title for this event, I think.
UGH! The pain it's overtaking me. Every stride I take it hurts more and more. To make it even worse I'm on a donkey. This can't last forever can it? No, I can't allow it. But on the other hand, I'm so excited about this baby coming. To know that this is the son of God helps make me bearable. I know that I have Joseph on my side making sure I'm okay so that is a real relief. However, I feel so hot, I feel like I'm going to pass out anytime. I need to have help balancing when I walk. Anyways, I’m getting ready for the big day!
We're on our way to Bethlehem! Mary (who is heavily pregnant) is quite a weight for a petite, dapper, donkey such as myself but she is very kind to me so I don't begrudge carrying her as she gets so tired walking. I don't even mind that she calls me by my nickname "Little". In fact, she has been making up a song about me which goes something like this, "Little donkey, Little donkey, on the dusty road..."
Much further East - a group of people are stirring!
Wise Person #1
Oh, Hello! Sorry I didn't notice you there, I was rather engrossed. And excuse my yawning, it was yet another late night, last night, star gazing. I must say, I am really chuffed with my apprenticeship in astrophysics. I have a very good relationship with my mentors and we seem to spur each other on with new discoveries. Well, lots to do but, if it is alright with you, I think I will take a little nap now to, how shall I say, 'recharge my batteries'?
Wise Person #2
Why would you want to be a star gazer, my friends would say, it’s just going to be sooo boring, spending your time staring at the sky all the time, and it means you can’t join us for all the dances! But the jokes on them now! I have seen the biggest brightest star ever! And that can only mean an adventure is about to begin!
Let me back track a bit, so there I was taking up my usual star gazing position. I had just settled down on my favourite pillow (purple with gold tassels, which is a very important part of a star gazer’s arsenal), when I consulted my dioptre, expecting to see the same old stars and to compare them to my very battered star chart. But then there it was bright as you like right in front of me!
I know it means something really important I just can’t remember what! History never was my strong point, but I am sure the others will know! I’d better go and wake them up! This is so exciting!
Wise Person #3
I’m an astronomer and have had some very late nights recently studying the night sky with my colleagues. We have seen a bright new star in the sky which seems to be moving so we have decided that we need to follow it to fathom its meaning. I’m busy packing everything we will need for what might be a long journey. The star could be leading us to someone very important so I must pack a suitable gift. I hope that the star doesn’t move too quickly. I don’t relish the thought of having to do most of our travelling by night, particularly through the desert. We will often have to sleep in tents, but I hope that we find some comfortable inns along the way. I’m getting a bit old for a life on the road.
Gabriel (from on high)
I see that the wise men are now on the move. They don’t know where they will be going to yet, but the bright star in the sky will guide them to Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph are also on the way there. God’s great plan to save mankind is unfolding.
God has told us that this will be such a special day that we must all be at our best. The danger is that over-excitement will lead to mistakes being made, so all members of the heavenly host are now concentrating hard on the extra practices that have been called. There are still one or two false notes, but I think they are getting there.
Humming disconsolately “...Little donkey, Little donkey had a heavy day, Little donkey, carry Mary, safely on her way...” Phew!
This is hard work! Are we nearly there yet? I'm not really enjoying this trek any more. It is going on too long. Does Joseph really know the way to Bethlehem? He seems to think I am being grumpy! It's a good job he can't read my thoughts! Are we nearly there yet?!!
Phew, at last I've got five minutes for a sit down... I can't believe it, but that Caesar Augustus has actually done us a favour for a change! I never thought I would hear myself say that, but here we are, the entire world it seems is on the move, everyone travelling to their home town to register for the census. Bethlehem is full to bursting, yet still the people come! Usually folk find a bed with their extended family and friends, but there are plenty more who need a B&B like mine – entire families are having to share one room!
While it's really good for business, I can't help feeling sorry for those who are still arriving in the town, but have nowhere to stay. If it carries on, I can see them huddling up in doorways, with nothing to eat, no warmth, no shelter from the elements or the muggers for that matter. That's why, when that young couple knocked on the door, I just couldn't turn them away. I saw him first – nice guy, with a look of desperation on his face as he stepped aside for me to see his wife behind him. Poor lass was heavily pregnant, clearly exhausted and sore from being sat on that skinny donkey for goodness knows how long. Well, I had no rooms left, but I did have the cattle stall downstairs, under the house. Not exactly homely, but it was at least sheltered and private – it looked as if that baby was not going to wait much longer. You've got to show some compassion, haven't you?
Was the angel really there or was I hallucinating? Was it all a dream? I’m so confused, I don’t know if it’s getting worse by the minute. Every time I think I overthink it and I get butterflies in my stomach - not the good ones. But also, have I made the right decision to travel this far away from family and friends; Joseph is wonderful but...
Is it too late to turn back?
Well Mary, this is it, this is Bethlehem, the place of my ancestors. I can feel the connection with Royalty, did I tell you I was a descendent of King David? Oh, I did, a thousand times already. Sorry. thought you were going to do that? You thought I was going to do it, you remember giving me strict instructions, a room with a private bathroom, just in case, plenty of towels and access to hot water. Oh dear, well I am sure there will be a room somewhere… Famous last words, I searched everywhere but nothing, every time I knocked on a door NO ROOM was shouted back at me, and that wasn’t the only shouting, Mary was starting to scream at me, ‘Hurry up Joseph’. It took a while for the penny to drop but I think she was telling me that she was about to have the baby. In desperation I tried one more door, the lady of the manor took pity on me, she could see how helpless I looked and offered us a room round the back. ‘It’s not very clean, but it’s all we’ve got’. I kissed her hand in gratitude and rushed Mary and the donkey round to see where we would be staying. Oh dear, let’s just say, the donkey was right at home, I was not…
Hi there, my name is Shem and I am a shepherd, not the most glamorous job in the world I must admit, but it is important work none the less. I don’t just look after sheep, I have some goats in the flock as well, which means I have to lead the sheep to pasture from the front but I have to drive the goats from behind, “multi-tasking” you might say!
Shepherds start very early in the morning to get the flock to a supply of water and good grazing and then the day is spent watching over them to make sure none of them wander off and get lost. The sheep are the worst, I think they like playing “hide and seek” as I’m always having to go in search of the odd one that has managed to lose its way.
At the end of the day when I’ve got the flock back to the sheepfold I have to count them inside one by one to make sure none are missing – I’d be in deep trouble if there were only 99 sheep when there should have been 100!
Once the flock are all safely in the sheepfold and it gets dark, my “night shift” begins. I set up camp at the door of the fold to protect the sheep from attack from any wild beasts such as jackals and also to prevent any rustlers from getting their thieving hands on any of the flock.
So that’s the life of a shepherd, the pay is not great and there’s not much chance of promotion, but if you are good with animals, like walking, plenty of fresh air and being out in the countryside, then it’s a great job!
Not easy to be a shepherd, too much to do: sheep can't do much... they eat and sleep. And I have to take them to eat!! But you know what? I know them all, about 201 sheep. I spend time with them, I teach them, I protect them from wild animals, the best of all after the hard work I love them all.
Hello, my name’s Shaun. I am a shepherd. My friends call me Shaun the sheep .....looker after. My cleverer brother is a bespoke tent maker ON ROAD.
Dad gave me this job because I am not very bright. It is so BORING tending the sheeps (told you I am not very bright). There are not many in the flock, so we are a SMALL group of shepherds looking after them (none of us are over 5 foot tall). I think some of the sheep are a bit brighter than me!
I just can’t settle at the moment, my mind is buzzing with thoughts of my cousin Mary. She and Joseph set out days ago on that long journey to go to Bethlehem for the census, as it’s the city of Joseph’s ancestors. They’re going on Little donkey but just iWise Personne it – it must be nearly 90 miles, so it could easily have taken them a couple of weeks ...and our Mary’s nine months pregnant! How will she cope?
The weather can be so harsh, particularly at this time of year, it rains like heck and at night it can be freezing. Plus there’s so many hidden dangers on their route, including bandits and wild animals - I do hope they travelled with others for safety.
But I shouldn’t worry so, I must trust God – He will protect them and keep them safe.
I just hope Joseph has recovered now from his visit by the angel Gabriel(!) and has come to terms with fatherhood, even though the baby is not his child.
Oh dear, is that my John crying again – he’s always hungry - see what I mean, I hope Joseph can cope with what’s to come. But really, what I am desperately hoping is that this special baby doesn’t come too early ...certainly not before they reach Bethlehem... and even then I'm thinking they might have struggled to find somewhere... Oh dear, I wish I could do more.
Cattle stall? Cattle stall, is that what people are calling this place? “Miss Donkey’s luxury apartment more like”. I didn’t spend hours plumping up those hay piles for nothing you know! It’s normally a very quiet peaceful abode with the faint moo-ing to help you drift off to sleep from my lodgers. But now, it’s all hustle and bustle, without any pre-booking, these tired and rather grumpy looking folks just turn up at my door and make themselves at home here, where are their manners? I now have so much more work to do to keep everything spick and span, and these people, particularly the rather round looking lady just sits with her feet up. But I must say, when I saw that fine, four-legged, fellow nobly standing in the doorway carrying such a heavy load, I did find myself checking I had no straw stuck between my teeth from dinner.
"Well, this is more like it! A nice cattle stall, if a tad bijou, kitted out with hay and water. Those hay cushions look very inviting and I am rather tired. I see there are other inhabitants (more about that in a moment). Mary and Joseph don't seem as impressed with our lodgings but they are too weary to look any further and it would probably be pointless as Bethlehem is heaving. I see that Joseph has taken some of those hay cushions for Mary.
Back to the other inhabitants; aside from the cattle, there is a rather attractive donkey in residence! She has beautiful long ears and fine teeth (although she must be a messy eater as she had hay stuck in her teeth when we arrived). Things are looking up! I expect she will be impressed when I tell her about my heroic efforts on this epic journey I have been on".
Now back to the East – but not quite as far as the party are moving towards Bethlehem...
Wise person #1
It has been a dazzling completion of my astrophysics apprenticeship. The discovery of the best, brightest star ever! (I do, of course, mean the startling celestial body in the sky, rather than my mentors realising they had a star pupil.)
Now I am with (I am able to say) 'my colleagues' for an amazing journey following this star travelling West. It is such an exciting time and I think we are on our way to a right royal destination. I will try and keep you updated.
Wise Person #2
Us star gazers are very used to sitting and gazing through our various instruments making notes and calculations. We are very rational people, everything happens for a reason, the stars show us the way forward etc. That’s what made us abandon our usual way of life and get up and follow the brightest star you have ever seen!
I have to say this camel is very uncomfortable and sometime I wish I was sat back on my favourite purple cushion at home... But this is such an adventure!
Wise Person #3
We have been travelling now for quite a few days. On most nights the sky has been cloudless and full of stars which is wonderful for astronomers. The star that we are following is much bigger and brighter than any of the others, so is very easy to follow. It is still moving, but quite slowly and is in a different position in the skies each night. As we have been travelling and sitting round the campfire having a meal, we have had lots of deep discussions about its meaning. The star is so special that from, our knowledge of the ancient manuscripts, we think that it may foretell the birth of a king. The camels are ready so it’s time to move on. I will catch up with you in a few days.
Well, here we are; ready for the great day – in fact, it’s going to be the greatest day in the history of the world, for God is transforming His relationship with mankind by providing a Saviour. I did suggest to God that, as it is His Son who is to be born as a human, we should have an angelic guard of honour for the last part of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem. I thought it would be appropriate, too, for me, as the chief angel, to be there to make a “welcome to earth” speech when the birth happens. But God explained that the birth part of this arrangement has to be a completely human event, as people need to know that his Son will experience everything that humans do. So, it is to be a lowly birth in a meagre stable. I’m sure God knows best, but I would have enjoyed a bit of ceremony. Of course, there will be an angelic presence on earth when the heavenly host appear to the shepherds. I went to the final rehearsal – it is perfect; it is going to be a great and joyous sound. I hope the shepherds appreciate it!
Wow!! We have really arrived. New people, the atmosphere is so busy and amazing. But there’s a problem there are animals here sharing a room with us. They smell disgusting, revolting and horrible - it’s making me feel sick. There’s no room for us! Joseph could have done lots better. At the very least he could have got us a room without animals, but whatever I’ll try and be grateful at least we’re inside.
Mary has not stopped screaming at me, but the baby still hasn’t come yet. The baby, our baby or just her baby? I still haven’t got my head around that yet. I keep thinking back to that crazy night and the Angel. Was that really a message from God or just the meanderings of a crazy sleep deprived mind? I still love Mary, I always will but what does it mean for us, how am I going to be a husband and a Dad, what does the message mean about this baby, my son, can I call him that? Yes, I must, for I must love him as Mary loves him, but... Saviour to all? I am just a humble man of woodcraft, I was not born for such a responsibility, was I? Is this my part in God’s great pageant of salvation?
Wise Person #1
It seems we were right about following this special star. We understood it would be a connection with a king - and our journey has eventually brought us to the palace of King Herod. The King, though, is something of a disappointment. I have been so buoyed up with the discovery of the star, and the journey, that I expected to be in excited awe of this king. Instead, he seems a moody character and I think we all feel he is someone who has 'got out of bed the wrong side'. So, not a good feeling about this king and, it has to be said, not a good feeling about this being the right place, either. Lots more conferring to be done with my colleagues on the situation.
Wise Person #2
So the Star meant that somewhere a king was being born! So obviously the first place one would think to visit would be a Palace, a good logical assumption! The star went on forever moving across the night sky, I thought it was never going to stop!
I am very sore form spending so long on my camel (lovely chap by the name of Humphrey), but at last we have seen a palace in the distance (not hard to miss granted). So off we go! Apparently this palace belongs to King Herod, he doesn’t look overly thrilled to see us!
Wise Person #3
Well, we’ve reached Jerusalem. It is very busy with lots of people on the move. Fortunately, we have managed to find a decent place to stay. It was wonderful to sleep in a comfortable bed and wash the dust away. As the star drew nearer to Jerusalem and seemed to hover there, we agreed that it was leading us to the new-born King of the Jews as written in ancient scriptures. After a good rest we made enquiries as to where we would find the new-born king. No-one knew, but then we were summoned to see King Herod. He made us very welcome with refreshments and he was interested in our journey, but he had no idea where the baby was. He asked us to report back to him when we have found the new king, so that he can go and worship him as well. However, he didn’t seem altogether delighted at the prospect of another king to rival him. On we go.
"I'm living my best life! This is a great place to hang out. The accommodation is perfect, there is plenty of hay and water, and, of course, the company here is delightful. It makes every step of that journey worthwhile. The only downside is that Mary and Joseph don't seem in such a happy mood. I suppose a cattle stall isn't really intended for humans. Mary seems to be very uncomfortable, and Joseph looks stressed and worried. I feel sorry for them but maybe they should plan. It’s nice having Donna to talk too – did I mention that was the Donkey’s name who lives here; we’ve been swapping stories.
Odd bunch who visited recently – called themselves wise but came asking me about a new king; the cheek of it! I am THE KING around here – and nobody should forget that.
Where are my wise men if there’s supposed to be an upstart “king” in the neighbourhood? And something to do with Jews – they're all trouble makers. I asked those odd bods from the East to come back and tell me about the new “king” so I could pay him a visit... This is the last thing I need on top of Caesar’s census; there might have to be recount!
I’m the only king around here, my son is going to be the next one and his son after him – what I say goes!
Shem the shepherd reporting in again. Actually, there’s not much to tell you, things have been just the same as they usually are every day. In the morning I take the flock out into the hills for their daily grazing and down to the stream for fresh water, then I keep my eye on them all day to make sure none of them wander off and then in the evening I lead them back to the sheepfold to keep them safe for the night. That’s it really, it can get a bit boring at times, doing the same thing day after day after day after day, going to the same places, seeing the other shepherds all doing the same thing as me, not much different happens around here. There was a bit of excitement the other night when there was a jackal prowling around the sheepfold but I managed to scare it off with a well-aimed shot from my sling, but other than that things are very quiet at the moment. Maybe next time I will have something more interesting to tell you.
Sorry forgot to introduce myself – I’m Simeon (some say Sim the simple shepherd; that’s rude). Day after day nothing ever happens here, always the same: hooooooo it's so cold! Let's count the sheep again... if one is missing I will go looking until I find it! I better count again, 1, 2, 3, I wish they didn’t all look the same – and keep moving. I’ve lost count now. 1, 2...
Shaun here - ‘I’ve just spent another tedious night watching sheep sleep.’
Sometimes my mind just wanders off and I have strange thoughts. Like eternity- it puzzles me - I mean, when will it end or will it end? Sometimes I just wish something unexpected would happen to break the monotony of this job...'
Inn Keeper’s Cat
Hello, I’m Kat the cat. I grace the home of an inn keeper here in Bethlehem. I must say I’ve never seen the place so busy. I had just managed to find an empty room this morning and curled up on the bed to get my morning sleep, when I was unceremoniously chased off. I left in quite a huff I can tell you. Even out in the streets there are loads of people and not a quiet spot in sight. Never mind, I have a brilliant back up plan – see there is a nice quiet stable round the back where there is plenty of hay and straw for a nice comfy bed and best of all no noisy people. I will get a peaceful sleep there...
Geoffrey (pronounced “Joff-ray”) the Camel
It has been two days since we left Herod’s palace, and it has to be said, one misses it greatly. Of course it is nice to be out fulfilling our duties, parading our hosts for the common man to see, but one misses the first-class treatments received when cared for by royalty. To think, just a few days ago I was getting a full body lather; rinse, nail trimming and hump massage! The sauna was exquisite too, if a little unnecessary after trekking across a desert…
It was most disappointing to have to leave so soon. But it seems there was a crossed wire somewhere down the line, and the new king we’re endeavouring to welcome is, in fact, not to be born in the palace. Perhaps because Herod’s lacks the outdoor space - sure he has 14 bedrooms, but only one swimming pool! And not a tennis court in sight! Regardless, here we find ourselves - caught in crowds of chaos. Packed more densely than Noah’s Ark!
Not to worry, no doubt this king we are sent to greet will more than compensate for our hardships. It feels quite bizarre though, if I didn’t know my host better, I’d suggest he was lost, again! If rumour is to be believed (and when is it not) then this new man should be the richest of any I’ve had the pleasure to meet. And let me tell you, I’ve paid a visit to anyone who’s anyone east of the red sea! One of benefits to being such a well-respected member of the elite transportation services, we’re the go-to’s for all royal occasions. Trusted to lead with elegance and professionalism.
This town, however, is clearly not well acquainted with my kind. It seems the donkey is the preferred mode of transportation for these uncivilised people. Truth be told, I’m feeling quite homesick. I miss the feel of warm sand beneath these toes of mine, instead here I have small rocks caught between them. It is undignified, to say the least.
Rest assured, my review of Bethlehem in ‘camel advisor’ will be far from glowing! I just hope that, once we arrive, the sleeping accommodation will be up to scratch.
It's known that some people really don't believe that Angels exist. Well, we do! And we are mentioned in the bible 273 times! We are always around.
Sometimes, we travel as a heavenly host and people are amazed when we appear as a beautiful bright star, shining and moving in the midnight sky! And... our wings... WOW...
When we all fly together our shooting star brightness develops into a wonderful snow like appearance as our feathers fall to earth as snow on a winter's day.
Humans sometimes pick up our feathers and know that we've been around.
We are God's heavenly angels, doing our Father's work on Earth.
I must say I am a little nervous about what is to come. It must be a very special occasion, Gabriel has been checking on us every two minutes, are our robes clean, do we have the right music etc. We have to go and deliver the Good News to some shepherds on a hillside in Bethlehem, I hope we find them. We’ve been practising for what seems like months and Gabriel says we must get it right. This is my first major task and I don’t want to mess it up, wish me luck!
Hello, my name is Gabby and I am an angel. Actually, I’m a distant cousin of one of God’s most famous angels, you may have heard of him, his name is Gabriel. There are thousands and thousands of us angels and God uses us for all sorts of work that needs to be done for him. One task that we angels do for God is to be messengers, visiting men and women on earth to take a message from God to them. Right now, along with my fellow angels, and with my cousin Gabriel teaching us, I am preparing to deliver a special message to a group of shepherds near a small town called Bethlehem. I’ve not been to Bethlehem before but according to what my cousin said, our message is going to be a very important one because we are going to be announcing some major news about a very special event. We are going to be singing the message to the shepherds and Gabriel has been working us hard in our choir practices. I’ve almost learnt the song off by heart, the first two lines are: “Hey you shepherds, I’ve something good to tell you. Hey you shepherds, I bring good news”. It’s a great song with a catchy tune, so I’m looking forward to a spectacular event when it happens and I’m sure those shepherds will get the message that God wants them to hear. I’ll let you know next time how we got on and what the shepherds thought of it all.
Wise Person #1
Well, am I glad to find that our final destination is not the palace of King Herod?! He seemed to be getting in quite a bad mood with people around him. The star we have been following is taking us further. Although pleased to be moving away from King Herod, I have rather had enough of sitting on a camel day after day. I think my friend's idea of a plump cushion is not a bad one. (Good idea, but I've not got one.) It is proving difficult to keep everything we have with us in good order. Ah well, one more check that our gifts we have brought are still intact... and now off we go again.
Wise Person #2
Well that was a waste of time! Least we got a good meal and bed for the night, but unexpectedly the King was not to be found in the palace! Star on the move again – seems like Bethlehem may be the place, a little town not too far from here. So that’s the next (and hopefully final!) destination.
My body was not too happy about getting back onto Humphrey the Camel but onwards we go! (I have also just realised although we maybe nearly there we have to go all the way back too...). Almost sat on my gift earlier! That would not have gone down well with the others! Not quite sure what the gift is but as my mother says you can’t turn up empty handed!
King Herod was acting very oddly when we left asking us to tell him exactly where the king was so that he could go and worship... I am not sure that’s usual king behaviour!
Angel #1 (waxing poetically)
I'm in the bleak midwinter and my mobile’s gone and 'Pinged.' The message says "Do extra hours, or else You'll be de-winged.' I've got to guard some shepherds who are watching lots of sheep. But, a night shift !!!! with OLD GEEZERS... That will keep me from my sleep! But my Boss, he says "Just do the job" or else he'll have me fired. So... I'll shine a light when called upon it's the reason I was hired.
So, here I go I'm landing now in a field of mud and grass and the men look scared to see me but I smile and start to laff!!! They offer me their pack up of crispy fish ‘n’ chips but I dare not put their earthly food between my luscious lips!!! We chat a while 'bout this n that as one does when angels fall. So, all is well... All counted in. That's the reason for my call.
Wow, what a sight we were, even I was impressed and it takes a lot to impress me! The noise, we must have frightened those shepherds, their faces! But we had the joyful news to tell them. I was worried they wouldn’t believe us but you know what they were off down to Bethlehem as if there was no tomorrow. We needn’t have worried, everything went brilliantly and Gabriel was pleased. Got to go, another job awaits.
Hello again, Gabby the angel here. Wow, am I excited or what! Let me tell you about our ‘one night only’ performance above the hills outside Bethlehem. All that singing practice paid off as we delivered God’s very important message to some very startled shepherds looking after their sheep in the fields. The setting was perfect, the air was still, the sky was clear and the stars were shining brightly when we made our appearance, angels in the night sky as far as the eye could see – fantastic! Those poor shepherds nearly jumped out of their skin with fright, you’d think they had never seen an angel before. As for their sheep, well they couldn’t have cared less, they just kept on grazing or sleeping, paying no attention to our heavenly host whatsoever.
Well, we sang our hearts out and delivered the message that God wanted told, that in Bethlehem a very special baby had been born, he is ‘Christ the Lord’, the Saviour of the world, and the shepherds had to go to see him and tell others about him. I think Gabriel was pleased with our performance and we were all chuffed that God had chosen us angels to bring his message to mankind in such a way. I’m sure God has other plans for us in the future, I can’t wait to find out what he wants me to do next.
Wise Person #3(catching-up)
Well, we’ve reached Jerusalem. It is very busy with lots of people on the move. Fortunately, we have managed to find a decent place to stay. It was wonderful to sleep in a comfortable bed and wash the dust away. As the star drew nearer to Jerusalem and seemed to hover there, we agreed that it was leading us to the new-born King of the Jews as written in ancient scriptures. After a good rest we made enquiries as to where we would find the new- born king. No-one knew, but then we were summoned to see King Herod. He made us very welcome with refreshments and he was interested in our journey, but he had no idea where the baby was. He asked us to report back to him when we have found the new king, so that he can go and worship him as well. However, he didn’t seem altogether delighted at the prospect of another king to rival him. On we go.
Baar, baar, baar, baar. Boring, boring boring. Here's some grass. Here's some sheep poo. Some more grass...
What the Moses is that, sunshine in the night-time? Ah! What was it mother said just before she was taken to be spit-roasted? Oh yes, if you see light run away!
Baar, baar, baa[bang].
I can see stars, lots of stars. An Angel! I must be dead, going to heaven. Now lots of Angels all singing! Wait a minute, why’s Flossy here, I know I could smell her fleece a mile away, but from heaven? And I thought we could roam free in heaven, why then the pen post by my head? Oh!
What’s that he said, a saviour born in Bethlehem? For whom, him or me? For them, always for them, off they go.
“What about us sheep Mr Angel? Is anyone going to save us from Passover?”
Oh no he’s heard me. The Angel’s coming this way - no not the flaming sword!
Baar, baar, baa[bang]. Ow!
Oooh, I must be flying, feet aren’t touching the ground but I’m moving. No, a shepherd has me under his arm. “Please don’t spit-roast me!” Baar, baar, bleat…
Bleetings one and all. I am Shaaaaron, a broad tailed Awassi sheep. When I was born I was small and weak so I spent the first few days of my life being reared by humans. Hence I am not scared of the shepherds and will cosy up to their fire to keep warm, especially in December when the rains fall so abundantly.
One memorable night the shepherds and I were huddled together keeping warm when BOOM the skies lit up, brighter than day, and what I thought were stars became a human presence in the field before us. I jumped back in shock! My front legs buckled beneath me, causing me to bow before the apparition, almost as if I was tucking into a tasty patch of short succulent grass. It’s just as well that my head was down, because the figure was so radiant that the light seared my eyes. I was terrified!
Then with a deep resonant voice, which caused the ground to tremble, the figure spoke. “Do not be afraid, for see, I bring you good news of great joy which will be to all the people. For there is born to you, this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This is the sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth, lying in a manger”
I am a sheep. I don’t understand human noise, but for some reason, as soon as the figure started to speak my fear subsided and I felt a warm optimism fill my heart. This figure... This angel..? was here to tell us something extraordinarily good. Something important! No sooner had the angel spoken than the skies were filled with angels, making the most beautiful sound I had ever heard... far better than anything than the shepherds could produce sat round the fire of an evening! I was in awe, and although my knees ached as I bowed before them, I was unable to do anything other than marvel at such a wonderful sight. As quickly as they appeared, the angels departed, plunging us back into the dark of a winters night, save for one bright star in the distance.
I wasn’t able to follow the shepherds that night, but I didn’t mind. Not only had I seen a heavenly light show unlike any other, but the shock caused my sister to go into labour, so I became an Aunty to the best, most mischievous twin nephews a sheep could ever wish to know. Baaaarilliant!
Finally, the baby arrived. It was crazy, all the screaming, fetch this, fetch that, hold my hand, no Joseph not like that, Joseph, Joseph as the screams got louder. I was all over the place. And then there was a moment of calm before the baby cried his lungs out. I was exhausted I can tell you, well yes, so was Mary, granted she had done all the hard work. I thought at least we might get some sleep and give us time to rest and to get our heads around things but no, I have learned that babies attract attention, actually they demand attention. I have also learned that this baby attracts more attention than most. First the hillmen, I have never seen such uncouth men look so happy though at least I felt better when they admitted to seeing angels as well. Not just me then. And then the locals started popping round to see what all the fuss was about and even the animals poked their noses and snouts in. I told you this baby demands attention!
This experience is unbelievable. I have vivid memories of me in pain, me crying, me laughing but In the end I’m so grateful. I thank God for this opportunity to carry someone for all, the Saviour of all people. And I didn’t know people would want to visit him as a baby! All this company is just amazing. Me and Joseph are the happiest people right now. Can’t wait to see what happens as he grows up.
"Well, Mary's baby has been born, here in this fine cattle stall. I won't go into all the details but human births seem much more difficult than those I have witnessed amongst the cattle, sheep, and other animals. Anyway, all is well and Mary and Joseph are delighted with the baby. From what I have overheard (I overhear quite a lot, unintentionally of course), they have called him Jesus. Mary says she was told by the angel Gabriel that his name is to be Jesus. There is obviously something unusual about this baby if an important angel has been sent to give him a special name. He looks and behaves like any other baby, but, I can't put my hoof on it, there is something mysterious and wonderful going on here, in fact, a whole load of visitors have just turned up! I am going to see if I can unintentionally overhear more and find out what is going on."
I have never been so busy, there has just been so much to-ing and fro-ing. I think I might just sleep by the door in case anyone else decides just to turn up. We had a very long night the other day, there was so much screaming and shouting from the two new comers. My new friend and I decided we were safer out of the way, so enjoyed an evening of star gazing, he had some wonderful stories to tell about their journey (I don’t think he saw me gazing at him). Then a rather smelly bunch of guys turned up, it’s like they live out in the fields, how uncivilised. I hope the young couple have to stay for a while so I can learn more from my new friend, he’s teaching me his song; “Little donkey, little donkey...”
Hi, it’s Shem the shepherd again and have I got something to tell you! What a shock me and my fellow shepherds had the other night. There we were out in the hills looking after the flocks, it was a nice clear starlit night and everything was quiet and peaceful, when all of a sudden there was a right commotion in the sky – a great crowd of shining beings with wings (I think they called themselves angels) just appeared and started singing to us. Then we were told a message by the lead angel, Gabriel was his name, that we had to go to the local town of Bethlehem to find a baby because this child was born to be the Saviour of mankind, then all these angels just disappeared, singing as they went. Well, leaving the young apprentice shepherds to keep an eye on the sheep, we all jumped up and set off for Bethlehem as fast as we could go. I think I was in a state of shock as I don’t remember much about getting to the town and even less about how we found the baby, but I do remember that he was lying in a manger in a cattle shed, a very strange place to have a baby I thought. His parents, I think they were called Mary & Joseph, had travelled from Nazareth for the Roman census, they were pretty surprised to see a bunch of scruffy shepherds looking for their baby and they were even more surprised when I told them that a crowd of angels had told us all about their child and who he was. After we had spent some time in Bethlehem we came back to our flocks and everyone was on a high, we couldn’t help but praise and thank God for the angels’ message and the chance to see this very special baby, even though we are only poor lowly shepherds.
I'm just so flabbergasted. Such, such wonderful creatures visited us last night. This is a sign. God really does notice us. My eyes are wide with astonishment. This baby, what a baby! He is going to be the one that's going to save us all. God is amazing.
‘What is happening? We saw a dazzling light. An angel in the centre of it. He was speaking. A SAVIOUR TO BE BORN. Wrapped in cloth. Lying in a manger. At Bethlehem. Next a sky full of angels, all singing loudly. Quick chat with Shem and Simeon and off to Bethlehem to find the baby we went. On arriving, told his parents our story. Everyone amazed. Wow, what an adventure for us poor shepherds. Can’t stop praising God.’
Wise Person #1
At last, our final destination, I think, I hope. We are in Bethlehem and the star has stopped moving. This is such a small town but so incredibly crowded! You could almost say a sardine would have a job fitting in. I am so pleased that we are well organised with tents which we can put up outside the town, if need be.
My eyes are struggling to believe the palace which is directly under the star. It is so very, very different to King Herod's. In addition to so many people, there are lots of animals. There are just straw type furnishings and this obviously suits the cattle, donkeys, sheep... (The resident animals look quite content but our camels are now very weary. One of our camels, Geoffrey, seems to be suffering greatly with a very discontented demeanour. He usually is the camel with the most haughty manner and likes to proudly take a lead when we go on our journeys.)
Ah now I comprehend that this is somewhere purposed for animals, and yet has an amazing load of people too. Hmm, but it is right. This is where we are meant to be, our final destination. We have found our king. He is a baby being lovingly cared for by his mother. It is so right to kneel and pay homage to this king. Some gifts we have brought seem rather unusual for a baby. I am pleased with mine, though. I have brought precious gold and this has to be a most appropriate gift for a king.
Wise Person #2
We are here!!! But I have to say this is not quite what I expected…. A lot less gold and a lot more straw! But then there was the king right in front of us! It was a sight to behold! I am so glad I made this journey, to be honest even Humphrey seemed rather impressed with it all.
And the child, he just laid there next to his mother gazing up at the world, looking slightly bemused! I mean who wouldn’t! The parents, Mary and Joseph, at first seemed surprised that we had come all the way from the East to see them, but then they seemed to take it all in their stride. I have to say the story they told us was amazing, I am not sure I would have believed it if I hadn’t heard it first-hand (and been part of it myself!) I am going to have such a story to tell when I get back!
And then it was time for the gifts before we left! I carefully got mine back from Humphrey and laid it in front of them. Mine was something called Myrrh, a rare perfume, often used for anointing. A bit of an odd thing to give a child I think you will agree but he is very important child!
Right time to go back now, we are going a different route back (I do hope its shorter!) apparently that Herod guy didn’t have any intention of worshipping at all, his motives were much darker! Time to go Humphrey!
Wise Person #3
We have followed the star to Bethlehem, a little town not far from Jerusalem. It’s very busy here with people arriving from all over the place for the census. I think we might have to sleep in the tents again. The star seems to have stopped so we might have reached our final destination. We have observed it for a while to make sure it really has stopped as we don’t want to make the same mistake as in Jerusalem. It seems to have led us to a stable where, amazingly, there are two people and a baby amongst all the animals. It seems an odd place for a king, but we are sure that this is where the star has been leading us. There is both an air of excitement and serenity here and we have been told there have been other visitors. We gave the baby, who is called Jesus, our gifts. Mine is frankincense; not at all what you would normally give a young child, but it is a gift for a king. We were tired and saddle sore after a long journey, but we forgot all of this when we realised that we were privileged to be witnessing a very special event and a very special child.
"This has been an extraordinary few days! Since baby Jesus was born, there has been a constant stream of "unusual" visitors. The first to arrive were a bunch of rather smelly shepherds. I know a cattle stall isn't considered the most refined of environments by humans, but these shepherds were even more pungent than the animals here! They said something about being invited to visit by angels. They didn't make much sense but seemed awestruck by the baby. After they had left, things returned to some sort of normal until the arrival of the next visitors. They were an odd group. Three gentlemen from far off lands and three camels (the less said about the camel call Jeffrey, the better!), who had travelled following a bright star which led them here. Come to think of it, it has been extremely bright outside at night recently! They too seemed awestruck by the baby and talked of him being a king?! I really don't know what to make of it all. Extraordinary!
I suppose we will be returning to Nazareth soon, as Mary and the baby are doing well enough now to manage the journey. I can't imagine life being the same as it was. I'll never forget what has happened these past few days, or forget the friends I made here"
What an amazing time it has been!
Everything went perfectly. All the prophecies over hundreds of years have come to pass. Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem just in time for Jesus to be born there. The heavenly host was just great – all the practice was well worth it and their singing filled the sky with a sound of great joy. I was proud of them! The shepherds were gobsmacked! But they did as they told and visited the baby to worship him. The wise men also managed to follow God’s special star; the gifts they gave to the baby were magnificent.
But what happens now? This is only the start of God’s great plan to save his world. Some people have already recognised that there is something very special about this baby – Mary, the wise men, the shepherds and others have shown their devotion, but I wonder what the world will make of him. There will be many who will not believe that he is the Son of God, and some will feel threatened. We hear that the nasty King Herod is planning to kill Jesus, so my next task is to warn Joseph to take his family away to Egypt until the danger is over.
So, in the years to come there will be difficulties and opposition, but I am sure some people will understand the message and respond to it. Most importantly, God is well pleased with his Son – I am sure he will make this clear at times during his earthly life.
That’s all from me for now – I suggest you put aside 25th December every year to celebrate this great day. Enjoy it!
Jesus lay in his mother’s arms, and Mary wondered at the past few months – a wonderful baby boy born in a stable, angels, shepherds, wise men, amazing gifts, and Joseph as her husband – so many amazing things. What would the future hold?