Midnight madness: A first-person account of the first Christmas : Monday, Dec. 6, 2004
December 6 2004 by Ephraim son of Abijah, of Bethlehem

Midnight madness: A first-person account of the first Christmas : Monday, Dec. 6, 2004
Monday, Dec. 6, 2004

Midnight madness: A first-person account of the first Christmas

By Ephraim son of Abijah, of Bethlehem

Madness it was! Madness! Madness in the midnight. So we were thinking. Madness!

Please excuse my speaking. I am not talking English very good, but I am wanting to tell you what I was seeing and hearing in the midnight time.

So much time ago now. So much ago but still like yesterday. My brothers Jared and Lamech and I were keeping our flocks out in the fields all the time, because the weather was being good. We were not bringing them home in the nights. We were sleeping in the fields and getting wet with the dew.

We were taking turns keeping watch over the sheeps, so some of us could be sleeping. It was my time to be waking up and watching the sheeps, but I wanted to be sleeping because it was in the middle of the night.

For keeping myself awake, I was counting the sheeps, but that made me want to be sleeping again. So I was thinking I would be praying the Shema, so I did: "Be listening, oh Israel, the Holy One your God is being one God, and you will be loving the Holy One your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strongness."

So I was praying. But I was still being very sleepy - I mean sleepy. So I was remembering on the scriptures that are being my favorite. I was thinking about stories for David, how he was watching the sheeps when Samuel called him for being king of Israel. I was remembering how Amos was watching over the sheeps until God called him to be a prophet over Israel. I was wondering if the Holy One, Blessed be He, would ever be speaking to me while I was watching my sheeps in the night.

I was looking up at the stars when the sky was suddenly exploding. There was a great booming and a shining and I was jumping on the ground and hiding my face. Then it was becoming quiet except for a humming in the air, and I was looking up and there was in front of me an angel.

I am being on my word that this was true. My brothers were waking up now, so they can tell you so. I had never been seeing angels before, but I head the rabbis talking about them. They said Isaiah had been seeing angels, and Ezekiel, and even father Abraham. I was thinking that this great shining man was looking like an angel. What else could he be?

The old women in my village were saying that angels sometimes were still appearing, but I was not believing it until that night. When the angel came I was jumping back onto the ground and covering up my head because I was afraid. My brothers were also being afraid. We thought the sun must be coming up in the midnight because the light was so bright all around us.

While we were still hugging the ground, the angel was speaking to us. He was saying: "Do not be being afraid, but look - I am bringing you good news about great joy for all people. On this very day, in the city of David, there is being born to you a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord."

My heart was dancing inside my chest. The Messiah was being born! The Messiah we have been hoping for these many years! The Messiah was being born into our own little town, into Bethlehem, where King David once lived. It was really too much for my poor mind to believe, and my brothers were looking at each other like they were not believing it, also.

Then the angel was raising his voice and he was saying: "And this is being a sign for you - you will find the baby all wrapped up in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."

We were thinking, "In a manger?" The great Messiah is being born in a hay manger where they feed cows and donkeys and sheeps? How could this be happening? But we were not having long to be thinking, because all around in the air above the fields there was a popping and a crackling and a fizzing like the stars were all blowing up.

Then I was looking up and there was being a whole sky filled up completely with angels, and they were all beginning to shout "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace among those he is favoring!"

We were just standing there with our jaws hanging down because the angel voices were sounding like beautiful music in our ears and we didn't know what else to be doing. And we were still standing there when the angels started popping and disappearing one after the other until we were being left all alone.

I was looking at Jared and Lamech was looking at me and all at the same time we were saying: "Let's go see who is sleeping in the stables!" Then we were leaving the sheeps behind and running back to Bethlehem and there were people sleeping in just about every stable in town, but there was only one where they were having a baby. We were finding it down behind Lumas' inn.

We were apologizing for coming in the middle of the night but they were already awake because of the baby, and they were being very nice to us, the man who was Joseph and his wife who was named Mary. We were telling them about the angels and what the angels were telling us about the baby being the Messiah of Israel, and they were being amazed at our saying.

Then they were telling us that angels had been coming to them in Nazareth and telling them that they would have a baby even though they had not been sleeping together because they were not yet married. The angel had been telling them that this baby would be from the Holy One, and they would be naming him "Jesus" because he would be saving his people from their sins.

"Jesus" is how you are saying the word "Iesus," which is how the Greeks are saying "Yeshua," which is meaning "salvation."

We were hardly believing that the Messiah was being born that very night in that very stable, but all of us had been seeing and hearing the angels, so we were believing. Then we were going back to our sheeps, and we were singing and dancing and giving praises to the Holy One for he had been counting us worthy to be seeing the new Messiah.

Now we are having big joys and we are telling all the people good news about the Messiah being born in Bethlehem. Some people are believing us, but some people think we have been spending too much time with the sheeps.

My friends, I am here today to be telling you that the baby Jesus was becoming the grown-up Messiah of Israel, and there was much more that he was doing, but I must be telling you that on another day.

It was like madness in the night when the angels were coming to us, but now it is being gladness in my heart. I am hoping that you are knowing his gladness, too.

Madness it was, and gladness! Such a night!

(EDITOR'S NOTE: this imaginative retelling of the Christmas story is based on Luke 2:8-20, as reported by Tony W. Cartledge.)

12/6/2004 12:00:00 AM by Ephraim son of Abijah, of Bethlehem | with 0 comments

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