Written by: Rachael Keefe

How Matilda, a Minnesota Moose, Saw the First Christmas: A Christmas Story

I know what you are thinking: there wasn’t a moose at the manger when Jesus was born. And you’re right, well to a point. Matilda was there and she’s a …

How Matilda, a Minnesota Moose, Saw the First Christmas: A Christmas Story

I know what you are thinking: there wasn’t a moose at the manger when Jesus was born. And you’re right, well to a point. Matilda was there and she’s a moose. Matilda wasn’t inside the sable where it all happened. She had a good view, though, and she loves to tell the story of how she got to that stable and what she saw.

My name is Matilda. I’m a moose from Minnesota. Long, long ago, I went on an adventure never to be forgotten. Do you want to know what happened? Well, I’ll tell you.

In the time before there were people everywhere, I was a lonely moose. I traveled the prairies and the lakeshores. I ate grasses and brambles in the north and the south, the east and the west, too. Sometimes I ate berries when I wandered into the woods. Mostly, I was looking for fun. It wasn’t very exciting to always be roaming around.

One night in the middle of winter, I happened to notice the first star appear in the sky. It was huge! And so bright! Not like any star I’ve ever seen before. So, I did what anyone would do. I wished on the star. You know, the old rhyme: Star light, Star bright, first star I see tonight. Wish I may, wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight.

What did I wish? Well, I wished with all my might, to have an adventure, to travel far, and see something amazing.

I was very disappointed when nothing happened. I was sure it was a special star so bright up in the night sky. Nothing changed, though. I was still there, alone, on the frozen lakeshore. So I found a sheltered place and went to sleep like any sensible moose would.

When I woke up, the first thing I noticed was that I was warm, very warm. There was sun shining brightly and all the snow and ice was gone. I was not in Minnesota anymore. Where on earth was I?

As I looked around, I saw a small city in the distance. There was quite a bit of grassy area between me and city. Lots of sheep and shepherds filled up the fields.

On the other side of the fields, was a road heading toward the city. Noise from all the travelers is what woke me up.

Far down the road, away from the city, I saw a group of travelers who had other moose with them. Or so I thought. As I got closer, I realized these moose looked really weird. They hand no antlers and were more yellow than brown. Strangest of all, they had humped backs. Maybe the warmth of this place made for very different moose?

Then one of the young ones spotted me. So I trotted over. She introduced herself as Chloe. She told me she is a camel and not a moose. She thought I was some kind of strange camel. Can you imagine?

Anyway, Chloe told me that there was something special happening in the city. That her people had been traveling for days to get there. She wanted to run, but no one thought that was a good idea. She told me I should run so I wouldn’t be late for the very important thing that was happening in the city, under the star. You know, the star that I made my wish on.

Chloe gave good advice. The very long line of people and animals heading into the city, would take days. I took Chloe’s advice and trotted off toward the city.

As night came, I saw the star again and it seemed to be hanging over a stable on the outskirts of the city. I slowed down so I could approach with caution.

You’ll never guess what I saw! I’ve never seen anything like it!

In amongst the animals in the stable were two humans, well three actually. There was a man and a woman. And the woman had just given birth. They put the baby in the manger because there was no bed in the stable.

While I was looking in the window, other folx started to show up.

Remember those shepherds I told you about, the ones watching their sheep in the fields outside the city? Well they came running in all out of breath. They kept saying that a “multitude” of angels told them to come and see the new born king.

That baby in the manger was a king? No way! No king would be placed in a manger. Kings live in palaces.

All through the night people came in and offered gifts to the newborn child. I watched and listened.

It turns out that this baby was something special all right. His parents named him Jesus, which means God Saves. At first I thought this was a silly name for a child.

I kept watching and listening, though. Eventually, Chloe and her people arrived. Her people were magi, wise ones, from far, far away, maybe even as far away as Minnesota. Anyway, they brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

This child wasn’t your average king at all. This child was sent into the world by God. You know, the Creator who sends love and beauty and joy and peace and wonder and love and all those good things into the world. Well, the Creator sent this child because people don’t often take time to notice how God breaks into the world. And, I guess, they aren’t very good at loving each other or themselves, let alone loving the whole Creation.

It was something amazing to watch how people came to honor the baby Jesus. I watched and listened until I couldn’t stay awake any longer. I found a quiet place to sleep, in the back corner of the stable out of the way.

When I woke up, I was back on the frozen lakeshore. The sun was rising and the world was awash with color and that big old, bright star was fading.

As I looked up at it, I an angel came to me right out of the bright orange sunrise. It was super scary! The angel told me not to be afraid and that the child I saw was not a dream. I, Matilda, a Minnesota moose, must go and tell everyone about God’s great love for the whole of Creation. I must run and tell the world about the baby Jesus who teaches us how to love with God’s love.

The angel was quite insistent. In fact, that angel told me to run and tell every creature I met about the baby born in Bethlehem.

Chloe would be proud. I ran and ran and ran. And I told the story to everyone, just as I am telling you. Now you must go and tell everyone the story, too. Really, you must.

What are you waiting for? Go! Tell the whole world of God’s love born into a manger, under a star in Bethlehem long ago. Tell everyone to pay attention to how God breaks into the world over and over again to remind us of that baby who brought God’s love into the world in a whole new way.

Seriously. What are you waiting for? Go. Run! Tell everyone!

Merry Christmas!

Online home of the Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe.
Moose walking through deep snow with bare trees in the background. Image courtesy of Natalia Kollegova courtesy of Pixabay.
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About Rachael Keefe

Rachael is an author, a pastor, a teacher, and a poet. Her latest book (The Lifesaving Church - Chalice Press) is on faith and suicide prevention. She is currently the pastor of Living Table UCC in Minneapolis, and has launched a spiritual direction practice.

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