If anyone invents a way to time travel without messing up my hair, I think I’d like to go back to the night of great contrasts, where darkness was shattered by blinding light, stillness was cracked by shouts and boredom was shaken by excitement.
I’m captivated by the familiar story of shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night when the angel appeared and said, “fear not!” The multitude of a heavenly choir appeared and knocked the shepherd’s sandals off with a music and a light show like they’d never imagined.
For people who thought an abacus was high-tech, and a deep well full of water was a modern engineering marvel, witnessing a sparkling heavenly choir in surround-sound must have rocked their world.
At a Blue Angels air show in Pensacola, the entire squad of F-18’s seems to disappear far beyond the clouds. As the entire crowd strains their eyes and looks to the left where they were last seen, the skilled pilots suddenly come roaring at a low level over the crowd’s heads from behind. It’s a tricky move that fools even those who have fallen for the stunt before. The surprise sends a rumble through your entire body and the crowd laughs, screams and shouts in excitement. How can an entire squad of fighter jets sneak up on you? That’s exactly what I think the poor shepherds felt on that otherwise mundane night.
Like the Blue Angels, the heavenly angel’s news was earth shaking, not for that night only, but around the world for centuries to come.
The poor sheep probably fell over in a heap of mutton and chops, and the shepherds, who were usually very young, probably jumped around with whoops and yells, high fives and shouts of ancient, “Dude! Did thou see that?”
There are all kinds of studies, sermons and books about the shepherds, but it all comes down to God wanting to take the extra big message to the small common man. It was a royal announcement worthy of angels, but it was delivered to those working the night shift.
Theologians and historians can’t even agree what time of the year it really was, but I’m sure that no matter what the temperature was in Bethlehem, chills were running down the spines of everyone who basked in the glow of the sky-choir. Sleeping in heavenly peace was countered with joy to the world. Silent night was drowned out by the Hallelujah Chorus.
The night of contrasts was the beginning of a great story that brought clarity to a lost and confused world, and I would have loved to have witnessed it all firsthand.
I would have been delighted with the soft whispers from the expectant parents, yet burdened with the heaviness of the cross I knew was yet to come. I would have watched as the emptiness of a cold manger was filled with hope swaddled in a warm blanket. A baby would have tried to sleep while teenaged shepherds scrambled to get a better look. The solo lullaby of a mother would have been backed up by a full choir of heavenly hosts. It would have been both peaceful and electrifying. It would have been the best night ever. It would have been Christmas.
This story first appeared in the AL.com newspapers, The Press Register, The Birmingham News and The Huntsville Times. To view or share the story from AL.com, click HERE.