Wednesday, 15 December 2010
Bring a Lamb
What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
The earthy smell of animals filled Sam's nostrils as she became aware of her surroundings. As she stretched to iron the kinks out, she felt the rough, spiky texture of hay beneath her. Sitting up and glancing around, she spotted her now-familiar companion leaning against a nearby wall. Gentle light came from the torch on the wall nearby.
'Where are we?' she asked sleepily, suspicions running through her mind.
'Look a bit further,' he smiled at her, moving to sit next to her in the hay.
Sam did as she was bid. She found that they were in a corner of a small building. Pigs, a couple of cows, a horse and a few goats crowded in, providing the stench that had first assailed her. Beyond them, in the far corner, were two people ...
'Hey - that's Mary and Joseph, from last week!' Sam exclaimed, before she could stop herself. 'I'm sorry,' she whispered, embarrassed.
'Don't worry,' her companion replied, smiling. 'They can't hear or see you.'
'How's that?' Sam asked, struggling to not whisper, now that she knew she couldn't be heard.
'It's just how I've arranged it. We're observing.' He smiled. 'And we're back to the same night, although it's a week later for you.'
A tentative wail broke the ensuing silence.
'Oh my word, Jesus has been born?!' Sam exclaimed. 'Please can I go and look?'
'Of course you can,' her companion indulged her.
Sam got up and walked over to where Mary and Joseph were resting, avoiding the restless animals along the way. Alongside Mary, wrapped in cloth and comfortable on a bed of straw, lay the very tiny baby Jesus. He was contentedly asleep, apparently none the worse for his recent birth. Sam knelt down to study him closer, tears filling her eyes at the thought that she was witnessing such an important occassion. She then returned to their corner.
'What's going to happen next?' Sam asked.
'One day you will learn to be patient. But as for now ...' her companion put an arm around her shoulder, 'Listen.'
As Sam became quiet, she realised that there was quite a noise coming from outside the stable - for that is what it was. There appeared to be quite a crowd of people, chatting excitedly amongst themselves. Mary became restless and motioned for Joseph to go and shush the noisy crowd, lest they wake Jesus. This Joseph did, but as he opened the door, those outside instantly fell silent. A conversation ensued, the result of which was that those outside began to enter the stable to approach the little baby, kneeling humbly before him and bowing their heads in reverence.
The scene began to fade as Sam watched a young boy approaching the young family, holding out a newborn lamb ....
Song extract from 'In the Bleak Midwinter'
Bring a Lamb