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Camping Out - A Christmas Story
by mark quigley

It was an especially dark night. One of those that when you are away from the fire and look up into the sky, you tell yourself the heavens declare the glory of God. Well, we had been camped in this spot for a couple of nights. It was a pretty place. You could see the surrounding rolling fields and hills during the day.

We were all very tired this particular night and we sat around the fire poking at the coals. Once in awhile we dropped another log on the fire. There wasn't much conversation between us as we sat on our logs staring into the flickering flames.

Well, it sort of happened like this. I know you won't believe me, but I'm going to tell you anyway. Joe and Bob were camping experts and I was learning the different jobs from them. Joe had just put another log on the darkening fire and Bob was using his stick to move coals up against the log. All of the sudden out of nowhere comes this huge, bright, massive muscle man or being of some sort and he walked right up to our fire. He must've been about 11 feet tall. He just stood there looking at us, as if he was welcome. Joe immediately got up and started running away from the fire. Bob’s mouth dropped wide open and his fire stirring stick fell from his hands. He just stood there, frozen with fear. As for me I really didn't know what to do: follow Joe by running or sit still with Bob. I chose to do the first. I got up, only I slowly started walking backwards away from fire, all the time watching the huge man. His eyes glistened in the firelight as he followed me. Now that's what really made me feel scared. Behind me, I heard Joe as he crashed into our woodpile. As he scrambled to get up, he uttered some words I won't repeat to you. It was then that Bob seemed to realize he had better get out of there too, except as he started to stand, he tripped over himself and fell on his butt. He quickly grabbed for his stirring stick and pointed it at the big guy — as if that was going to stop him — but threw it down because he had hold of the wrong end.

By now the log was aflame, giving off more light. The huge guy started to speak. I could see a smile on his face as he gently said, "Do not be afraid." He hesitated a moment as he looked at all of us. When his eyes met Bob’s (who was still lying on the ground), I could see Bob wince. I thought to myself, "Bob was always bragging to us how tough he was. Well, he doesn't seem so tough now.” The big guy spoke again, "I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people." He hesitated again and I noticed that Joe had gotten up from the woodpile and taken a couple of steps back to the fire, but carefully. The big guy continued, "Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you." When he said the word "you" his eyes met mine. Opening his huge hands and arms, moving them forward, he uttered the words, "He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you; you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Well, I know you won't believe what happened next, as if this wasn't enough. All of a sudden, again from nowhere, just like that, stood thousands — maybe millions — of big guys. They were everywhere. It was suddenly brighter than daylight and even out on the surrounding hills stood these monster men. I wondered how Brave Bob was feeling now because I couldn't see him anymore. I decided to walk over to Joe to be on the safe side. As I did, I noticed my head was only as tall as the big guys’ waists. As I walked in between each one, they gently patted me on the back with their hands which covered most of my back. I looked into Joe's eyes and they were still wide. Then all of a sudden the big guys said all at the same time, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests." It was so loud and powerful that I thought my ears would burst. I glanced at Joe again, then looked back at the big guys — and I know this sounds crazy — but they were not there. Yes, they were all gone! It was dark out again, with only dancing firelight from that one log. We all walked back to the fire, only this time we stood in silence looking at each other and not at the flames.

I thought to myself, "I heard about these guys before from the fancy men in town who teach about God.” They always seemed to look down on us when we came into town. Maybe it was because of the way we smelled. Camping out all the time does take its toll. I wondered why they came here rather than to the fancy men, who know about such things? I wondered and then I heard the silence break as Brave Bob said,
"Let’s go to Bethlehem and…….” Luke 2:8-15

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