These Shepherds

Sheep of the Judean hills give meat,
skins and wool for raiment, tents—
cover from storm, shelter from heat.
In fields of Bethlehem where David slew
lion, bear, and fed his father’s sheep,
temple flocks now safely graze.
Those who watch have been well taught
that in the shadow of a distant Eden
firstlings offered hope. They know how
God spared birthright son of Abraham,
provided sacrificial ram for
grass-kindled flame, stone-tabled meal.
Remembering that death
passed over Israel’s house
because of unblemished blood,
these know the altar-end
of tender ones they nurture, name,
and carry in their bosoms.
For solemn feasts they gently lead
the young into Jerusalem
so sin-stained robes may be washed
white as the glory of the Lord,
so peace may be complete.
Tonight with faith they haste to find
a Savior and a certain sign—
Christ the future sacrifice—
swaddled, as the angel said,
in wool-soft bands
and lying in a manger.
These are they prepared
to spread the word abroad:
This day is born the Lamb of God.