Night of Holy Innocence

NO ONE KNEW HOW OLD HE WAS, he was that on in years. Too old to tend sheep now, they said. And it was true. He still went out when the sun was up and the sky was clear. He loved it then, feeling gentle breez- es there on the hillside, dreaming among the flocks. But the nights now were much too cold for his bones.

Too old for the night watch, but he had Jacob, his little grandson, only too eager to take his place among the shepherds.

“Our sheep begin to know your voice,” the old man said to his grandson just that afternoon. “That’s good,” he said.

“Grandfather,” little Jacob said, “Uncle Ezra is not well. You heard?”

“Yes, I know,” the old man replied.

“And father is still away,” Jacob went on, “so who will watch the sheep tonight? There’s no one.”

The old man had to smile. “No one but you?” he said, the smile spreading as he regarded his grandson.

 “Is it all right, Grandfather?” the boy said. “I’m not afraid.”

The old man nodded. “It will be good for you,” he said.

“Oh, thank you Grandfather!” the boy cried as he scampered away.

The sun was just setting as Jacob came by to see his grandfather.

“I’m going to go now,” he said. “To relieve Uncle Izzy.” Then he said, “Would you give me your blessing?”

The old man smiled and stretched out his hand. “I do bless you, my son.” Then he added, “Be watchful, Jacob. They caught some thieves two villages over. And the night is long.”

The boy nodded and was about to depart when he stopped. “Grandfather,” he said, “do you remember that man who knocked on our door today, looking for a place to stay? He said his lady was going to have her baby.”

“Yes, I spoke with him, but we could not help him,” the old man said shaking his head. “Your little brother is due any moment now. Your mother sadly could never take in guests, not in her condition.”

“Are you sure it’s a brother?” Jacob said brighten-ing.

“I’m quite sure,” the old man said. “I’ve had dreams and premonitions. And I know that this little boy will give the Lord Our God glory in some special way .”
The boy looked up at his grandfather. 

“What does it mean to give God glory?” he asked. . . .