The Story of Benjamin the Shepherd Boy.
Here is the story I wrote for our very first crib service today. Please feel free to use it if you wish.
Ever since Benjamin was little, he always wondered what God looked like. People told him a lot of things about God. That he was powerful, that he made the world and all the beautiful things in the world. That he saved the Jewish people from slavery. Yes, but what did he look like. Benji asked his dad, Moshy.
“Dad. What does God look like?”
“I don’t know young Benji. No-one has seen God, and we’re not allowed to make pictures of him. Why do you keep asking?”
“Because I really really want to know.”
“Well why don’t you go and see Abraham the rabbi.”
So young Ben went to see him. Abraham was very wise, he taught all the small Jewish children stories from the bible. He was kind and smiley, and he had a very long white beard that went all the way down his chest.
“Rabbi. What does God look like? I want to see him.”
Abraham laughed. “Little Benji . You can’t see God. He is too big. Too amazing, too wonderful for us. We wouldn’t be able to cope with the brightness of his face, just like you can’t stare at the sun without hurting your eyes. God is even brighter than that. Even the holy prophet Moses only got to see God’s back, and afterwards his face shone so brightly that it gave everyone a headache and he had to wear a veil.”
Benjamin went home sadly. He had really hoped that the rabbi would be able to help him.
Many months passed. And still Benji wondered. Sometimes he looked up at the sky and tried to stare very hard past the stars. Maybe he would see God peeping around the corner of the star curtain of the sky, peeping from Heaven. But he never saw anything.
Until one night. Something amazing happened.
Benji was helping his father and his brothers mind the sheep on the hillside. It was a very cold night. They had wrapped up warm in fur jackets and they had lit a fire to keep their toes warm. Then suddenly a big white shiny person appeared. It was so scary at first that Benji hid behind a really fat sheep with fuzzy hair.
The shiny person was an angel - and the angel had a message.
“Don’t be afraid shepherds.
You can come out from behind that sheep Benji! I’ve got some really happy news to tell you. A baby has been born in Bethlehem. He’s the Christ who will make our sad world happy again. Look for the one wrapped in cloth in an animal’s feeding trough.”
Benji felt braver. In the sky he could hear beautiful singing. It was so beautiful that he came out, and while the others were listening to the song, he went right up to the angel.
“What’s your name?” Gabriel, the angel said.
“Have you ever seen God?’
“Oh yes. It was God who sent me here.”
“Then what does God look like?”
“I can’t tell you that. Its something you have to discover for yourself.”
And then the angel disappeared.
And the sky was very quiet once more.
Benji was sad that the angel hadn’t told him what God looked like. But he figured that if the angel was so bright and big and beautiful. Then God must be even bigger and brighter and more beautiful still.
And so the shepherds walked down the hill into Bethlehem, looking for a particular stable. In the end it was very easy to find, because a very bright star was shining in the sky, lighting up the way. There was a beautiful lady, looking very tired, and a man and a donkey and a cow. And a baby lying in a feeding trough, just as the angel had said. Benji bent over and looked closely at the baby. It was very very tiny. He looked deep into the baby’s eyes and as he looked the baby reached out a tiny little hand, grabbed his little finger and gave it a squeeze.
Then Benji heard a voice whispering in his ear. It was Gabriel, the angel. He had shrunk himself very small and was standing on his shoulder. “Look Benji. That’s what God looks like? Benji whispererd back. “I don’t understand. This is a baby. He’s so little that he can’t even sit up yet”
“Yes but he’s the Son of God. He’s the one who will grow up and say ‘If you have seen me, you have seen God our father’ Look again!”
And so Benji looked again, and deep inside the baby’s eyes he saw such love. The baby loved him so much that a little tear leaked out of the corner of his tiny eye. He loved him so very very much that he would do anything for him. Anything to make his world better, even if that thing was going to hurt him and make him sad.
And then Benji understood. In the little baby,Jesus, he had seen the face of God. And what did God look like? God looked like someone who loved him very very much.