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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Spring (as in the season) (11/28/05)

TITLE: Spring Lamb
By Ruth Neilson


Eder reclined against a boulder. He was the youngest shepherd out there that night. The only reason why he was out there was because it was lambing season.* Early March, and the Roman census was in full effect.** The hamlet that he called home had swelled to a small city, because everyone from the lineage of David had arrived. Men, women, and children were uprooted from their villages for an entire season.

Eder’s mother had opened their small home to the travelers. Her gentle smile—

There was a bleat of distress and Eder’s thoughts were forced into the present. Wearily, he pushed himself up and followed the sound to an ewe that was struggling in labor. With calculated movements, Eder eased the lamb into the world.

He had to wonder when Messiah would come. Would Messiah care about the lowly shepherds?

Adonia--do You hear my prayers? Do You answer the prayers of a shepherd?

The shepherds were among the lowest of society; the rabbi’s took pleasure in sneering at them. As if the shepherds did not have a place within the Jewish religion. Eder knew that if not for the shepherds, there would be no yearly sacrifices for Passover. They provided the flocks to the temples—only the unblemished-yearling-males were to be offered.***

Eder leaned forward preparing to build the night watch’s fire. The flock had grown immensely that day. All of the shepherds were watching for fear of wolves. He continued to stoke the fire and then settled back against his rock. He closed his eyes and pulled his Tallit over his head as he heard the Shofar sound from the synagogue.

YHWH, Almighty Creator, You see these lambs, but do You see me? I’m the youngest of my clan. Do You know me, All-Knowing One? I remember You whispering in the storms, that You wouldn’t forget me.

Eder started to rock back and forth, his lips moving in silent prayer as he savored the fresh air. He smiled faintly, and relaxed further against the rock, sliding his Tallit off his head back down to his shoulders, folding it carefully and pulling his cloak closer to fight off the chill in the air. He was weary; the busy afternoon had blended into a still evening. Eder desperately prayed that there would be no births until morning. As he closed his eyes with a prayer on his lips the young man slipped into a light doze.

“Eder!” His father shouted across the field, startling him awake. Eder jumped to his feet. He stood dumbstruck in what seemed to be the noon-hour. The flock was bleating in confusion and his peers were struggling to remain calm and in control of the flock.

“Eder! Help us!” His father called through the chaos. Eder nodded, grabbed his staff, and began to attempt to corral the panicking sheep. That was when a booming voice, such like Eder had never heard before, spoke.

Sharp and authoritative like a shofar call, but it was lower. Eder’s gaze went to the sky, and his knees buckled. A massive being hovered above him, it was seemingly suspended on the air with wings that reminded Eder of eagles.

It spoke again, “Fear not, for lo, I bring you good news of great joy, that shall be to all the people -- because there was born to you to-day a Savior -- who is Christ the Lord -- in the city of David, and this is to you the sign: Ye shall find a babe wrapped up, lying in the manger.”****

Eder’s eyes grew large as he considered what those words meant. Could it be? Could it be that Messiah had come? Before he could contemplate the beings words, a host appeared. All were praising YWHW as they hovered in the air. “Glory in the highest to God, and upon earth peace, among men -- good will!” *****

When they were gone, he listened as the others argued what to do. It was finally decided that if YWHW saw it fit to announce Messiah’s arrival to the shepherds, then, who they not to welcome Him were. Eder’s father nodded to him. Yes, son, you too, came the unspoken statement.

Eder grinned in return and bent down, lifting one of the newborn lambs upon his shoulders. They were only poor shepherds, but they could provide Messiah with some form of a gift—a gift announcing the season of his arrival, a spring lamb.

Authors Notes:
* A ewe will normally be mated in late summer (August) through the fall, and according to my research for this piece, the gestation for a lamb is 145 days, which is approximately three months, which will place lambing season between February to April.
** Luke 2:1-2
*** Exodus 12:5
**** Luke 2:10-12
***** Luke 2:14

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Sandra Petersen 12/06/05
Good perspective on "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks"! You remained true to the Hebrew culture throughout with your mention of the tallit, the shofar, YHWH, the traditions that kept the shepherds so watchful, and yet separate from the rest of that society, as explained in P. 6. Perfect time of the year to tell this story.
Because this was so well-done, I will point out a few tiny editing things: P. 1-"The only reason why he was out there.." should read "The only reason he was out there..." In P. 2, did the gentle smile belong to Eder's mother, or Mary? Confused me a little. P. 6 had a couple of punctuation errorS: "the rabbis" (not the rabbi's, which is the possessive form of rabbi), "unblemished yearling males" should not have hyphens between words. Paragraphs 12 and 15 need a little rewording to be clearer in meaning. "A massive being hovered above him, it was seemingly suspended on the air with wings that reminded Eder of eagles" (I would remove 'it was' and write the last part as '...that reminded Eder of those of eagles.' "It was finally decided that if YWHW saw it fit to announce Messiah’s arrival to the shepherds, then, who they not to welcome Him were." could be (maybe) "They finally decided that if YHWH saw fit to announce Messiah's arrival to the shepherds, then who were they not to welcome Him."
Like I said, this was so well-written, I could find little to suggest. I read your article out loud to my preteen and teen because both are involved in our church Christmas program.Good job!
James Clem 12/06/05
As Sandra noted, very well written and a joy to read. The suggestion that Jesus was born during Lambing season is interesting. Watch spelling: "Adonai". Using elements of Hebrew culture added a lot to this story.
Jan Ackerson 12/07/05
I liked this story a lot! I was distracted a bit by the asterisks; I think just mentioning the Scriptures that inspired this story in your author's notes would be sufficient, since you didn't quote the actual passages in the story.

Loved the character you created, and the unique take on spring. Good job!
Shari Armstrong 12/09/05
Wonderfully written! You brought us back in time : )
Marilyn Schnepp 12/09/05
Christ was born in the winter. This story was about a lamb born in March...and I can't seem to fit the two together. (Will try to find time to Re-Read later-and perhaps I will get the gist of it)) As I have stated before, I have a simplistic mind, and it takes some time to sink in (smile); A Nicely written story, however. Thanks for sharing.
Sally Hanan12/10/05
I loved this one because of the knowledge of the Hebrew way of life. Yes, the few typos and the asterisks cluttered it a little, but nonetheless, it was a beautiful read.
Amy Michelle Wiley 12/10/05
I too, enjoyed how you brought a bit of Jewish culture into the story! And I agree with you, that it seems Christ was born in the spring. ;-) My helpful comment, hehe, is that the second-to-last paragraph seems to rush with little emotion. Good job!
Allison Egley 12/10/05
I really enjoyed this. I agree that the astrics (astricies?) were distracting, but overall, I enjoyed it. One question though. You mention in your first footnote that they mate during August, and then that the gestation period is 145 days, or 3 months. The 3 months confused me, but I think I get it now. :)
Brandi Roberts12/10/05
Wow! This gave me goosebumps! I enjoyed this beautiful blend of Judeo-Christian history. One thing, (couldn't remember if someone had mentioned it), you had YHWH spelled "YWHW" in some places. Thanks for sharing!
Val Clark12/11/05
This piece flows really well. In it you have created a convincing character and sense of culture and place. I enjoyed reading it. Yeggy
Jeffrey Snell12/11/05
Really an interesting setting and perspective. The errors/omissions were distracting, but otherwise a neat entry!