We led the animals down the road, Judd holding the lead ropes to the horse and pony, and I with my bucket of grain for the sheep. The beam from the flashlight Judd held in his free hand lit the way through the darkness. At the bottom of the hill, we turned in to the pole shed area which had become the designated spot for our first nativity program.
The pole shed area boasted of nice round bales that were stored in the shed. Those bales and the old shed would be the perfect area for our endeavor. With a concrete slab near the fence and feeding troughs along the edge of the concrete, this area must have been Oscar’s winter feedlot when he farmed here. The tall, long metal three- sided shed made good shelter, not only for the cattle, but also for hay and farming equipment.
The meadow was familiar territory to our animals for we had on occasion brought them down to graze the rich Brome. It was easy to lead them in through the gate and up to the shed. They were probably thinking it was going to be an adventure in grazing.
The germ of an idea had grown into a plan, and that plan was being carried out by all of our Wellspring group. The beauty of community! Imagining together, working together, and supporting each other as we live out various aspects of God’s truth. This is true worship.
Preparation was pretty simple. One of the mothers had found a pattern for cardboard angel wings and had made some simple white costumes. There would be a Mary and Joseph in bathrobes and shawls and a baby wrapped in a nice white blanket, with a few little shepherds to stand by the sheep. The script was simple scripture from Luke, and the songs were carols that we all knew.
We tied the horses near the hay and coaxed the sheep near to the manger where a “shepherd” would guard them carefully.
Someone had already hung a couple lanterns and had built a fire in the fire pit close to the manger. A soft flickering glow from the fire added to the rustic scene. As smoke wafted out into the small meadow, the nostalgic smells of campfires added to our anticipation.
Gathering around the fire, we waited for everyone to arrive. Slowly the moms and dads, children and college students began to join us around the fire.
We were ready. Moms and Dads lifted the two and three-year-old angels up on the large bales where they perched (or sat) in expectation of the unfolding scene.
To begin, we distributed a simple white sheet with the verses we would read from Luke, interspersed with a few carols. The first reader began: “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree . . . .”
The second reader continued: “4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, . . . and when the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”
Now we focused on the manger. Ah, the simple, the quiet, the holy. And we sang quietly, “Silent Night, Holy Night.”
“All is calm, all is bright.”Yes the quiet and the calm surrounded us.
We continued through the rest of the story, the sheep and little shepherds standing guard over Mary, Joseph, and the babe in the manger.
At one point we were interrupted by one of the little angels protesting loudly, “Stop! Mommy, the horse is eating my hay bale!” We all giggled, someone repositioned the horse, and we continued with the next reader.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.. . .
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying , “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Now was the angels’ time to sing their hearts out. “Angels we have heard on high . . . .” I watched in amusement as one little angel filled her lungs, and sang at the top of her pint sized voice, and I wondered what God might have in store for this little angel. Today that litle angel, Leta, is a grown-up angelic singer and server in the kingdom of God with The Salvation Army. Just one story of so many of those little angels who are serving God as adults today.
We finished the evening with the rest of the passage, ending with verse 20: “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”
After putting out the fire in the pit, and gathering up the horses and sheep, we headed from the meadow to the road and back to the house for hot chocolate. And so we also”returned” glorifying and praising God for all we had seen and heard. Yes, this was an experience we wanted to replay in our memories for a long time. Little did we realize the legacy we had begun.