Friday, December 23, 2011

The shepherd that got left behind

My name is Simon. I’m a shepherd; well actually, I’m a shepherd in training. That’s why I got left behind..

I’m still a little irritated by that even though I know SOMEBODY had to stay with the sheep… It’s just that all of the others had such a great adventure without me.  But at least I got to see the angels.

I’m sorry I’m babbling on… thinking that you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Here’s what happened…

 We had the fire going pretty well and half of the men were heading toward the tents to get a few hours of shuteye before it was their turn to watch the flock.
There was the usual grumbling and joking around the fire that night, but things really were pretty peaceful. The kind of night you really didn’t mind being a shepherd, you know what I mean? The stars were shining, the air was crisp, and there was plenty of food to eat.  We had killed a coyote earlier in the day and the smell of the roasted meat was making me really hungry.

As we began munching on our late night snack, I suddenly realized how quiet it was.  The usual night sounds were missing. No cricket noises or sheep shuffling… nothing! It was really strange. Each of the guys around the fire seemed to notice this at the same time. Even the men who had been in the tents wandered outside with worried looks on their faces. It just wasn't natural.
That’s when it happened.

All of a sudden, a bright light appeared.  I’m talking a BRIGHT LIGHT!  An angel started talking to us. Yep, an honest to goodness angel! And let me tell you something! Those angels are scary!! Have you ever been so scared that you were frozen in place? That’s how we were. 

The angel told us not to be afraid (yeah, right) and that something great had just happened! The Savior of the World had been born!

Did you catch that?  The Savior of the WORLD!!! Not just of the Jewish people, not just the religious people, but all of us!!! The whole World!
Well then a bunch of angels appeared all at once and started singing. It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen!

As soon as they finished their song, they disappeared. We turned and looked at each other. I don’t remember who said it first, but soon everyone was agreeing that we needed to go find this baby, this Savior, as soon as we could.

We all headed down the path at a quick trot. Then all of a sudden Tom, the lead shepherd stopped in his tracks.  “We can’t leave the sheep” he said. “Somebody has to stay here.”
Everyone looked right at me. I knew it wouldn’t do any good to complain, so I turned and headed back to the flock, after telling my friend Bob to pay attention to every detail of the trip.

Well, when they got back, they couldn’t stop talking about it! Over and over again, I heard the same story! They found the baby just where the angels said He would be. Each shepherd said the same thing… that when they went into the stable, they were overwhelmed by the feeling of peace and holiness that they had never felt before. It changed their lives.

It really did! From that time on, each shepherd that had visited the baby Jesus was a changed man. They were kinder, gentler, and much more honest than they had been before.

Now don’t feel sorry for me. It was just a few years later when I had my turn to meet the Savior… but you know, I’ll have to tell you that story later… I’ll come back around Easter time to fill you in on all of that.

Have a great Christmas!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Gabriel: Part Three (a skit from Children's Church)

Part Three:

Okay, so I don’t have long before I have to go to my next assignment, but I did want to tell you about the shepherds. 

They were ordinary folks, just the kind that the Almighty really likes, you know? So He decided that they were the ones that should hear about the Messiah before anyone else.

So as they were sitting there watching their sheep, one lone angel appeared in the sky. (Smiles big) I’ll let you guess who that was.  To say those guys freaked out a bit is an understatement.

I told them where they would find Jesus and then a bunch of my buddies appeared and we all sang a glorious song. We were so excited that God’s plan was unfolding in front of our very eyes.

I heard that as soon as we left, the shepherds picked up their stuff and ran to Bethlehem to find Jesus.

The next time I was part of the story was much later… I had the chance to show up in one of Joseph’s dreams, to warn him about King Herod coming after Jesus. Joseph, being the wise man that he was, obeyed the warning immediately and took his family to Egypt until it was finally safe for them to return to Nazareth a few years later.

So now you are caught up with my part in this fantastic story of God’s plan that involves each of you! All of this planning, all of this miraculous stuff, all of this love pouring out of heaven was for each and every one of you! It reminds me of something I heard somewhere before….

For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life….
What a great idea…. Have a great life! See you in eternity!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Gabe: Part Two:

Gabe: Me again! I wanted to catch you up on the Mary and Joseph story…

I had the honor of returning to earth with another message from the Almighty. This was the third time in just six months time! Let me tell you, there were some big goings on in that little town of Nazareth!

This time I was here to visit Joe. Most of you know him as Joseph, but I call him Joe. I feel like he and I have a “family” connection seeing as how I’ve seen him in his pajamas and all.

So here’s the deal, right after I visited with Mary, she went off and visited her cousin, Elizabeth (Zacharias’ wife- if you remember me mentioning him the last time I was here.) She stayed there for about three months.

When she returned, she went to visit Joe. Now, Joe had already heard some rumors that he just really didn’t want to believe. But when he saw Mary, he started to suspect they might be true.

And sure enough Mary told him that she was pregnant. She proceeded to tell him the rest of the story, but to be honest; I don’t think that Joe was really listening. He was devastated. He loved Mary. And now, he was going to have to break off the engagement because…. Well, because she must have another boyfriend!

He went home really depressed about the whole thing. And what do you do when you are really depressed about something? That’s right, you go to bed.

So Joe went to bed and although it took him a long time to go to sleep, he finally did fall into a restless slumber.

That’s where I come in to the story again.

To be honest I was a little irritated that Joe didn’t believe Mary. But remembering he was only human, I gave him a little bit of grace in the circumstance and didn’t scare him too badly when I showed up in his dreams. (waves his sword around a bit)

“Joe,” I said, “ Don’t be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Well to his credit, Joe woke up from that dream and did exactly what I told him to do. He went straight to Mary and married the girl… and just a few months later they had a son…. and they named him Jesus.

Now some of you may think that this is the end of my part in the story, but I tell you, there’s a whole lot more.

I haven’t told you about the shepherds or the threat on baby Jesus’ life. So stay tuned! You won’t want to miss it!

Gabe's view (a skit for children's church)

Part One:

Person dressed in military stuff, carrying a sword. Brings angel costume along into the room.

G: Hi I’m Gabriel! My friends call me Gabe! I’m an angel.
I know I don’t look like those fancy angels that you see in all of the paintings that have been hanging around for hundreds of years, but trust me, most of the angels look like me, not some wimpy little angel in white, wearing wings. But listen, don’t be afraid, okay?

Since most of you are used to seeing that kind of angel, I did bring a costume along. Hold on a second. (Puts on white robe and attempts to put on the wings.) This wing thing isn’t as easy as it looks.

Okay, now where was I?

Oh yeah, my name is Gabe and I am the one who got to deliver the incredible news to Mary! Do you know what incredible news I’m talking about?

That’s right! The fact that she was going to be the mother of Jesus, the Savior of the world! Here’s how it went down:

I got my orders from God and buzzed right on into Galilee, to a small house in the town of Nazareth. From a distance, I saw Mary sitting peacefully next to her bed. I entered the room and hovered just a few feet from her nightstand. You should have seen the look of shock on her face when I started to speak.

I said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

You could tell that Mary didn’t have any idea how to take these words. She looked confused and frightened. So I said what an angel always has to say when they visit someone:
“Do not be afraid”.

I told you! I am one scary dude when you aren’t expecting me!

Anyway, then I told her that she was going to be the mother of God’s own son and that her son was going to be the Savior of the world!”

I expected her to be blown away, asking me all kinds of questions. But she only asked me one… and she asked it as if she already believed that this was all going to happen to her. She said, "How is this going to happen? I’m not even married and I've never been with any man."

That’s when I explained to her that God was going to be the Father of this child, not Joseph. She accepted it all right away And responded with “I am the Lord’s servant, May your word to me be fulfilled.”

I was amazed at this girl’s faith and acceptance. It was awesome! (I had just had an experience with a man named Zacharias that wasn't nearly so positive!)

So with my job accomplished, I headed back to heaven, waiting for my next assignment.  I didn't have long to wait. Mary's fiancee Joe, needed to hear a Word from the Lord.

(to be continued)