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STORY (Advent): The Shepherd

Little Amos pulled his crippled lamb close as the winds whistled above. He and his uncle and his cousin had found a rock alcove to weather the storm. Their little flock was bunched against the small cliff face below, to avoid the pattering rain.


He pulled his coat over him and the lamb.


His uncle barked at him, "I bet your big brothers don't know how much fun this is, while they're selling to governors and talking in courtrooms."


"I wasn't strong enough to work like them," Little Amos replied. "I was too sick when I was young."


"Jeez, kid! I already know that! That's why you're out here."


"Sorry." Amos mumbled and rested his face on the lamb's back.


"You know, you're lucky you picked that one as your favorite." His uncle gestured to Amos's lamb. "People only want the good ones, to sacrifice. It's kind of like how they treat people like you, kid. But it's not all bad. I'm big and people bother me when I go into town. No one will bother you."


"I know." Amos brushed the lamb's lame leg with his thumb.


Suddenly a brightness surrounded them. Little Amos ducked away from the glowing cloth that was closing around them like a tent, his foremost goal being to protect the lamb. His uncle and cousin threw themselves down, hands over their heads until a voice came from above them. It was a man and somehow it was his robe surrounding them, sheltering them from the storm. He said, "Do not fear. I have good news."


Amos's uncle cried, "Oh God!! Leave us! We're unholy."


"Have peace, Jeremiah. The long-awaited Messiah has come to you three. He has been born nearby and wanted us to tell you specifically." He glanced at Little Amos with a special look in his eyes. "He wants you to come and be with him."


After a long silence Jeremiah stuttered, "Uh... Yes... okay. Uh..." He tried to own the unexpected commission, "How will we find him?"


"He will be swaddled and laid in a sheep trough."


"A sheep trough?! The Messiah?!" His uncle was aghast.


"He has a heart for the likes of shepherds. Come with us, we will point you there."


"We?"


They suddenly noticed singing voices nearby, raising in volume.


The angel walked them out of the alcove and surrounding them on the desert below, in concentric circles were rows and rows of men like the messenger. Their music was fit for king.


***

Jeremiah and his son were continually waiting for little Amos as they walked. "Just put the lamb down! The messiah won't wait for people like us!" The angel looked back at Jeremiah with a look that wanted to correct him.


Little Amos didn't see it. He just kept walking as fast as he could, tenderly embracing his lamb, his eyes on the ground as something very sad was filling up in them.


Finally the angel stepped aside and they heard voices inside a little stable ahead. They approached hesitantly. The angel said to Jeremiah as he passed, "This messiah waits for people like you." Jeremiah nodded, humbled and then cautiously announced, "Hello? We were asked to come?"


"Yes! Come!" The baby's father rose and came over to welcome them in. But little Amos stopped outside with his lamb cradled in his arms. Eventually the father of the baby came out and knelt beside him. What's wrong, little one. This baby king wants to see you."


"I want to see him too." Little Amos's eyes were locked on the little body in the sheep trough.


"Then what is holding you back?"


Little Amos slowly held his lamb out for the the father to take.


"What's this? Do you want me to hold him while you go in?"


Little Amos shook his head and looked at the ground. Tears were now dripping from his eyes. "It's my sacrifice to be holy enough to see the Messiah."


The father's eyes were filled with compassion. He embraced Amos lovingly and whispered in Little Amos's ear. "No, no. Little One. You do not need to offer a sacrifice to see him." He took Amos's shoulders in his hands and looked at him. "You cannot tell my wife this, but I have been told that my little one will be a perfect lamb that will be sacrificed for all of us, so that those like us and your beautiful little lamb can always come to this Messiah just as we are, forever more."


Joy lifted little Amos's face, and he looked at the father.


"I see how tenderly you hold your little lamb. Will you show that type of love to my son and hold him in your arms for a while like that, please?"


Little Amos's eyes grew large and he tenderly set down his lamb, which bleated joyfully and limped to look in the trough. Little Amos followed him in.


---

In what groups do you feel overlooked? In what ways do you feel like you are not enough for people? Now imagine that person they see, the way they see you, and address God from those shoes.


Now imagine God embracing that version of you like Joseph received Little Amos. And then imagine that he wants for you to hold his son close to your heart. You will not make him unholy by bringing him close to you. In fact, by holding God's son close to you, he will make you loved and holy. When he looks at you, and knows the potential he has built into you, who does he see you as? What words or images is he speaking to you now?


Now carry him close to you for as long as you can, and pick him back up again whenever you realize you have put him down.


-Raw Spoon


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