Christmas came with a howling wind that year in the mountains of Colorado, and I wasn’t ready to don the coveralls. In my usual organized manner, I finished preparations. We cut the tree and trimmed it. The children wrapped their homemade items and placed them on the tree skirt. Only Santa needed to deliver presents. We were ready to sit down for supper, prior to attending our Christmas Eve service at the church.
My husband came into the house from the barn and announced that a different delivery was on the way. Oh, no! Big Moe was not due until January 2nd. Would our first lamb to be born choose to enter the world on Christmas Eve? It was quite appropriate to have a birth in a stable. But the wind! My husband said that he could hardly get the barn door shut and latched as the Colorado wind pushed him against the door.
I tried to remain calm about the forthcoming event, but I hurried through the meal. Then I changed out of my church clothes, put on layers of wool, and squeezed into my dirty coveralls.
It was a cold trip to the barn, but inside it was warm. Big Moe was in her corner pen rearranging a straw bed. Our other ewe, Jamie, baaed softly every time Big Moe moaned.
A birth was imminent but not immediate. I reclined in a lawn chair by the feed room. I was too excited to sleep, so I observed the nature of sheep. It was an hour before two sets of black nails appeared, followed by a black button nose. Success! A medium-sized lamb entered the world. I quickly cleaned its nose with a towel and helped the mother dry the tightly-kinked wool. Big Moe started groaning and turning around in the straw. Another lamb was coming! There were twins!!
I weighed the lambs in a bucket: twelve pounds apiece. After they got colostrum, their first milk, I rushed to continue Christmas Eve plans. There was no wind. I turned to see the outline of the barn against the snow-capped Rockies. Now that I didn’t have to protect my face from the wind, I could see stars above the barn.
Oh, how beautiful, how calm. But only for a minute, I thought. Newborns in the barn at the Christmas season will keep me busy. In another couple weeks, our other ewe, Jamie will also deliver … or could it be sooner? But this is what I wanted – to be a shepherd, in addition to being a wife and mother. I believe that night in the stable, my life was changed forever.
“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 all around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause you great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’” Luke 2:8-12 (NIV)
This does bring great joy! Joy for the little sheep and great joy for the little Shepherd who were both born on Christmas.
May the Lord bless you all with His Excellent Grace this Christmas.