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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Evangelism (11/01/07)

TITLE: Evangelizing the Night


Nathaniel gripped his staff, while his free hand steadied his heavy shoulder bags. His steep climb up the hillside ended at the edge of a field. When he approached the sheep camp, he was greeted by a familiar shout.

“Ho, Nathaniel, what good things do you tempt us with this evening?”

Nathaniel spied his uncle Eliezer who overlooked the tending of the flocks. He eased himself down to a sitting position beside the wizened shepherd. “Something special, Uncle,” he grinned. He lowered the food bags to his lap and opened them.

The other shepherds gathered around the young man who visited often and brought baked goods from Eliezer’s sister.

“What news from the city?” asked Daniel, always eager to hear anything from the streets of Jerusalem.

“Much stirring over the taxation edict,” answered Nathaniel. “The city bulges with travelers; the roads groan beneath them.” He leaned back and let the shepherds rummage for crumbs. His mother’s cakes never lasted long among these lowly men encamped around the hills of Bethlehem.

Eliezer pointed to the indigo canopy overhead, sprinkled with starshine, “There is a stirring in the heavens as well.”

“What do you see, Uncle?” Nathaniel tilted his head and scanned the clear night sky.

“The star of the Coming One has entered the sign of the Virgin.” Eliezer lifted his gnarled hand and pointed out the constellation, “For some time now, I have watched it approach the maiden without hesitation. Look, tonight she cradles him within her womb.”

A shepherd named Yaakov wiped the remnants of one of the honey cakes from his mouth and spoke in a soft voice that seemed uncommon for the burly man, *“My grandfather read in the holy prophets that a virgin would bring forth a son and call him Immanuel, and that he would come out of Bethlehem of Ephratah.”

Nathaniel sat upright and shook the empty bags. “I think your imaginations have played tricks on your minds,” he laughed, unconvinced. He stood to his feet and looked up. “It’s just a night sky...” but his laughter faded when the constellation suddenly blazed with a blinding light. He fell to the ground, along with the others, and hid his face.

A warm touch on Nathaniel’s shoulder made him open his eyes. He looked up at the angelic being before him and heard him speak with a voice, which sounded like the rumble of distant thunder. The trembling men were told not to be afraid, that the Savior, Christ the Lord, had been born that day in the City of David. Once again glorious light surrounded them as a host of angels joined the Messenger and gave praise to God in the highest.

When the sky grew dark and quiet, Eliezer grabbed Nathaniel’s arm and looked around at the other shepherds, “God has favored us with these tidings for a reason. Hurry, we must see this promise with our own eyes.”

Dark shadows scurried after the shepherds as they went in search of the manger, described to them by the angel of the Lord. They scanned the hillside when they approached the village of Bethlehem, and the old shepherd pointed to a cave with an unmistakable glow permeating the darkness. What they found inside the stable filled their hearts with wonder, as Eliezer explained to the surprised couple all that had happened in the field.

Like one walking in a dream, Nathaniel moved slowly toward the young mother. She lifted her swaddled baby from the manger and eyed the young man with gentle concern as he reached out a hesitant hand. Then, as if something spoke to her heart, she held up her son so that the back of the stranger’s fingers softly brushed against the babe’s face.

When his nephew fled the cave, Eliezer was right behind him. “Wait, Nathaniel. Where are you going? This was written in the stars and proclaimed by angels; the prophecies have been fulfilled. We have been chosen for this moment, entrusted with an eyewitness account of the birth of the Messiah.”

“I know...I’m going now to tell the good news of this night to all who will listen!” Nathaniel looked at his uncle and at the other shepherds who had followed, and he saw in their eyes the same burning desire. Truly, this would be remembered as the night filled with glad tidings.

“And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.” Luke 2:18
Based on Luke 2:8-22 KJV

*Isaiah 7:14 and Micah 5:2

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Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 11/08/07
This is just beautiful. I've often wondered what it would be like to be with the shepherds who received the good news. Thanks for taking me there.
Sheri Gordon11/08/07
This is really good. I've never thought about what the shepherds did on Christmas night. This was really fun to read. Very creative idea for the topic.
Jan Ackerson 11/09/07
Beautiful writing--there were some sentences early on that really appealed to the writer in me. Love the authentic sense of time and place.

The last paragraph was just the teensiest let-down...nothing wrong with it, just not as spectacular as the rest of the piece.

The details are great--the honey cakes, the constellations. Very nice!
Deborah Engle 11/11/07
This is wonderful! Well written and a creative approach that worked well. Maybe some more thought on the title. I don't think it would have gotten my attention.
william price11/12/07
Extremely masterful writing once more, to go along with a great storyline. Anointed. God bless.
Dee Yoder 11/13/07
Great detail in this entry. I love the characters.
Betty Castleberry11/13/07
OOH, I have chills from this beautifully told story. If you aren't a writer, I "aren't" a Texan. Very well done!
LauraLee Shaw11/13/07
This is so creative and so excellently written. I like your title and your ending. You did a great job on topic, too!
Beth LaBuff 11/14/07
I loved reading your rendition of the Christmas story. This was fascinating, "The star of the Coming One has entered the sign of the Virgin". Is there any facts/or legend behind this? Wonderful writing.
Patty Wysong11/14/07
Beautiful! The characters were so real, I felt like I was there, too. What a beautiful gift you've given us-thank you!
Kristen Hester11/14/07
Beautifully written. I love how authentic it all seemed. I believed we were there, among the shepherds. Very well done.
Sara Harricharan 11/14/07
This brought life to an old story! I absolutely loved this piece. Especially the part with the constellations and signs. That put a whole new twist on how I always saw the shepards. Great job. Especially with the ending! ^_^