Some children were acting out the Christmas story.
They had worked on it for months. They had researched the story from the Scriptures, then used their imagination to recreate the atmosphere of that night with the shepherds out in the fields keeping watch over their flocks.
Boisterous 10 year old boys made the most of their chance to portray rough rugged shepherds. They cursed the government, they cursed the weather, they cursed their wives and they cursed their sheep.
Then came the flashing light and the sound of the Hallelujah Chorus on the recorder.
A mini ballet troupe of angelic 10 year old girls pirouetted on the stage.
Then the big announcement was made! God was coming in the birth of a Saviour. God’s salvation was for all people, even shepherds!
The invitation was extended. The angels fluttered off and the shepherds were once again alone, doing their best to look and sound dumbfounded.
Well, would they or would they not go to Bethlehem to see if it was true?
One of them said, "It's too dark!"
Another said, "It's too cold."
Another said, "We can't go right now
Another said, "What's the hurry?"
And in the middle of the argument when one shepherd was pointing out that they couldn't possibly leave their flocks out there in the middle of the night, young Fergus delivered his line.
Standing in the centre of the stage with his hand upraised to silence his fellow shepherds he said:
"Listen you guys. If this is as important as it sounds, the sheep can jolly well look after themselves for once. I'm off!" And he led them off into the night.
Young Fergus was so right! Christmas is an event and a call which simply demands our immediate and total response. To procrastinate, to delay or to give it our half-hearted attention will mean that we will miss the opportunity or fail to make the most of it.
Fergus is reminding us not to allow busyness or weariness, selfishness or blindness to keep us from enjoying the richness of the Christmas gift.
If such a call and invitation is as good and as important as it sounds, let's leave the sheep to look after themselves for once and let’s head for Bethlehem!
Source: Heard about thirty Christmases ago from superb storyteller, Barrie Hibbert.
Dr Geoff Pound
Image: Fergus the shepherd.