Advent Day 21

Caleb, the Shepherd Boy

By Zoanna Pearson,
Selah Companion

It was an ordinary star-filled night. Jesse, Levi, and me, Caleb, three poor shepherds were minding our own business keeping our flock safe from wolves. We were sitting around the campfire listening to Jesse play his flute, Levi was dozing, it was my watch. I was lulled between the music, the warm fire, and a cup of hot wine. We were wrapped in sheep skins huddled close to the fire because the night was cold.

Suddenly, the sky became as light as day. No, that’s wrong, it was the brightest light I had ever seen; a thousand full moons would be dim in comparison. Startled, we jumped up, tripping over each other. What was happening, was the world ending? (We were later to discover that our world was just beginning.)

The sky was filled with…you won’t believe this, but the sky was filled with angels. You might wonder how I knew they were angels, it’s not like I’ve seen one before. 

I am telling you that these beings were bright and shimmered with gold and silver, they had wings and flowing gowns. Some played what looked like golden horns and they were singing, “Hallelujah, Glory to God, Praise the Majestic Creator, Gloria.” 

I, Caleb, a shepherd boy,
was looking on
the face of the Messiah!

What else could they be, but angels? It was loud but joyful, like a heavenly party! Their light and their voices fell on us like warm fog and we were transfixed. Oh, how I wish you could have been there. We stood in wonder, our mouth’s open, holding on to each other. I confess, we were scared to death.

Without taking my eyes off what I was seeing, I whispered to Jesse and Levi, “Do you see what I see?” They both nodded but couldn’t speak.

Then an angel stood before us and told us to go immediately into town and find a stable that had a baby in a manger. The angel said that the baby was Christ, the Lord and that we had been chosen by Yahweh to be the first to see this child. Chosen! Even while I am telling you this, it sounds crazy, unbelievable. See the Lord? We stood dropped jawed, I mean, who would argue with an angel?

Without a backward glance and trusting that the flock would be safe, we ran over the hills into town. We raced around town checking stable after stable. 

And then near an inn, it was just as we were told. This stable was filled with a light as if all the candles in the synagog were lit and the light fell upon us. In the manger wrapped in a soft cloth lay a baby, not just a baby, but the most beautiful, radiant child I’d ever seen. His parents called him Jesus. We didn’t know if we should close our eyes or gaze on him. The three of us fell on our knees in awe and worship.

I, Caleb, a shepherd boy,
was looking on the
face of the Messiah!

I realized that just being in the presence of this child was changing me. I am not ashamed to say that tears ran down my face, I sobbed prayers of praise, and words I’d never spoken before left my lips. I, Caleb, a shepherd boy, was looking on the face of the Messiah! I was in the presence of the Holy One. 

We wanted to stay forever, but we were concerned about the sheep. As you would imagine, all night and nights forever after, the three of us told and retold this story, each time remembering what could not be explained. We would always wonder, why us? We were three, young boys, shepherds, outcasts, despised by many. We told our story to others, some believed us, others thought we had been out in the fields too long.

As I tell this story to Ari, the scribe, I wish I could say that I went on to learn Hebrew and become a scholar and a teacher. But I knew in my heart that because I had met my Messiah, my job was to be the best shepherd I could be. I was called to tell my story that once on an ordinary, star-filled night in a field near Bethlehem, I, Caleb, a shepherd, looked on the face of Jesus and I was transformed.

—Caleb, the shepherd
as told to Ari Israel, the scribe