Here’s a story from A Barnyard in Bethlehem many years ago- courtesy of Brandon Baumgarten:
It was Christmas. The cows were out again and it was my job to bring them back to the barn. As a local rancher in Bethlehem, it’s important I keep my livestock right where they need to be. Somehow something in the sky had lit up, out of the blue and had spooked them. It sounded like singing and loud praises to God. It was the brightest light one could imagine.
Then, I noticed the shepherds who work for me were missing and my sheep were scattered all over the place. “If only they would do their job, things would be much easier. “ I thought to myself. Where could they be that’s more important than taking care of the livestock I pay them to feed? One by one, I had to pick those sheep up and bring them back to the barn as well. There was a lot of work for me to do that Christmas night.
But it didn’t end there. Soon I realized my horses were thirsty. So, I went to find the manger I used to water them, but I could not find it. Someone must have taken it and this was not the time to be messing with a rancher. If there was any night where everything was missing or seemed to go wrong, that night was it. After l gave up looking for the shepherds, locating all my livestock, and finding the manger. I went back through the barn in my disgust and went to call it a day. As I turned off all the lights and locked up all the doors, I noticed the back door was creeped open just a bit. “Great. Just what I need.” I thought to myself sarcastically. “Another interruption to my night. Probably another animal got out again.” I continued to think to myself. As I went to close the door, I looked out and suddenly saw something that caught my attention.
What I saw was a man and his wife sitting on my hay. There surrounding the couple was a herd of my cattle who were lowing. Then I saw my shepherds I employ, singing songs of praise and celebrating with the couple.
Then to my surprise, I saw in the center of them all-a baby who had just been born. As he slept peacefully there, I soon saw where my missing manger went. It had become his temporary crib and I didn’t mind that at all. I could tell: There was something special about this child, more special than anything I had seen before.
I watched for awhile and took the whole scene in. Then quietly closed the door and went about my night. As I left, I knew something wonderful had happened that Christmas evening. As a rancher I’ve seen a lot of life born in my stable. But nothing comes close to that one special Christmas night, when my cows got out and Christ the King was born in the barn.
Although this story is meant to make you think of another perspective of the nativity, there is an underlying truth. During the Christmas season, it is easy to get caught up in the interruptions and distractions that we forget the true reason for the season. The hustle and bustle of shopping, cooking, gift wrapping, cleaning, and more can all become distractions from the main focus of Christ. Take some time with your family this year to thank God for sending His Son and to focus on what Christmas is all about. Merry Christmas to you! Whatever you do, don’t forget what happened many years ago in a Barnyard in Bethlehem.
-A Barnyard in Bethlehem by Brandon Baumgarten