And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.
Minutes pass, and the shepherds still gaze up into the sky. The host of angels rose into the darkness until they were lost among the stars. Was it a dream?
Leib drags his gaze away from the stars and looks to Avi, to Eron. The question is on his lips but he doesn’t ask it.
“Let’s go.” Avi stoops to get his pack discarded at his feet, and throws it over one shoulder. “Let’s go to Bethlehem. Let’s see the babe. Let’s go.” Leib runs the few feet to his own pack, and throws it over his shoulder.
“Eron! You coming?” Leib and Avi are already walking, pace quickening as the hill slopes downward.
“I’ll stay with the sheep.” Eron calls behind them. Leib stops and turns to his brother-in-law, the older and wiser of the trio. “Leib, go. Find the Christ child. See what it means. I will be here.” He gestures to the sheep and offers a smile before waving them away.
Leib follows Avi down the hillside and into the city, now rousing from sleep as slowly as light crawls into the eastern sky. They pass large and small houses, stables, shops, and tents. They peak into doorways, met with wide eyed cows and donkeys. They pass sleeping goats and prowling hounds. Hens peck the ground and cows chew and chew and chew hay as they search the quiet city.
“There!” Leib points to a house set apart from the others. The doors are open and animals graze in the yard. People stand in the space inside.
Avi quietly passes through the doorway, nodding to a man nearby instead of knocking on the door post. Leib follows, looking in the faces of the small group, but none but the first look to the shepherds. They all look deep within the room, speaking in low murmurs. Smiles and joy fill the space as the young men near the center of everyone’s attention–a manger in the midst of the stable area, filled with fresh straw for the livestock. But, there, tucked into the manger, wrapped in clean linens is a baby–just as the angel had said.
Leib can’t help the noise that bursts from him. Even as the child’s mother looks at him sharply, curiously, he cannot help it. “Glory to God in the Highest!”
The little group stands stunned. Family, Leib decides, celebrating a healthy birth. Do they know? Do they know the Messiah is in their midst?
He explains quickly to the young girl, the angel on the hillside, the trip to Bethlehem, finding the baby just as promised, just as described. He explains to Mary, and then runs out of the house to tell others!
“The prophets spoke true!” He says.
“The Christ Child was born!” He smiles.
“Here! Now!” He calls.
“He’s in a stable.” He points the way.
“He lives!” Leib and Avi are near breathless when they return to see Him. They bring strangers to see Him. They bring boys and girls, men and women. Anyone who will come, anyone who will listen.
Mary watches as strangers pass through the door, walk on reverent feet, bow low before the manger, and call her boy a king.