December 19th, 2017

In a sense, I live in a Nativity Scene.  During Advent, a bright Bethlehem star hangs over our barn, and should you follow it into the barn, you will find a quiet stall area with fresh hay, and cows, and goats, and at night, sleepy chickens roosting here and there.  Up at the house, the Christmas lights proclaim the season and a welcome to visitors and passers-by.  If those should ever include a couple seeking shelter for night, we would surely offer more than a corner of our barn, but during my visits to the barn for evening milking, the thought of a young couple welcomed, safe, and in peace, resting quietly with our cows and goats while a Star shines overhead is – compelling, connective, and rich with the echos of Christmases past.

It is a long way from our NC farm to the Bethlehem of the baby Jesus – half a world away, but worse, more than 2 millennia ago.   The location of that original stable is uncertain, and modern pilgrims to Bethlehem find nothing like a stable – no cattle lowing, no shepherds, no glorious star overhead, no mother, no Christ child.  In Bethlehem, the remnants of that long-ago night are obscured by an ornate and ancient church erected over a grotto recalling nothing of the account in Luke’s Gospel.  But tonight, here at our farm, I see the Star, and smell the hay, and lean against my gentle cows – a shepherd myself after all.  The Angels don’t seem so distant, and the Christ child is born anew in my heart.

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