Monday, December 24, 2007

The Shepherds' Prayer

Barry, Richard M. The Shepherds' Prayer.

Some people have last minute shopping. A time where they are frantically shopping and everything is in a frenzy. I don't. I never have. Instead, I almost always have last minute reading. I read several last-minute books this year that I'm going to try to review today. One of them is The Shepherds' Prayer. This one is biblical fiction. The prologue depicts one woman's hurried escape from the Slaughter of the Innocents. The Roman soldiers who came to Bethlehem to slaughter all boys under the age of two. But the heart and soul of this book is about what happens thirty years later.

Anam is a young man--if you consider thirty or thirty-one to be "young" which I do--adopted by another family. His father--the man he calls his father--found him on the side of the road. His mother was dead as was the horse she rode on. Anam which means "no name" is what he is called since he was already eight days old, already circumcised. Anam is on a quest to find out about his parents--to find out who he is and where he came from. So Anam sets out on a journey to Bethlehem in search of answers.

Most strangers are wary of answering Anam's questions. Especially when they find out that he was a babe that escaped the Slaughter of the Innocents. Any time he mentions the name of Jesus--the only clue he's got to go on--then people give him the cold shoulder. No one wants to help him. No one wants to even be civil. But he does piece together who might be able to help him. The shepherds who first proclaimed the arrival of this Messiah, this Christ child, this future king of the Jews.

So Anam's quest turns to that of a man seeking the shepherds. As you can imagine, his search is successful. The shepherds are eager to share their stories, share their thoughts and hopes about that glorious night. And they are overjoyed to find this man. They see his lambskin blanket that is inscribed and recognize it instantly, they knew his father. But more importantly perhaps to Anam, they know his name. His name is Stephen.

On his way back home, he comes across Jesus. A Jesus who has just begun his ministry. Just begun to heal the sick and proclaim his message. Jesus is depicted in this tale as seeking out the shepherds, seeking the ones who first worshipped him.

Overall, it is a nice, enjoyable story. Although some parts of the story are centered around the birth, I would say this is a story you can enjoy all year long. It's more about living and worshipping and witnessing...what you do with the child in the manger...after Christmas day.