THE PARENTING DARE BLOG
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THE PARENTING DARE BLOG
I love, love, love mothers.
Join our community!
Grab a cup of tea, move the wrapping paper off of the couch, tell the children to play downstairs and give yourself the gift of time to read these reflections on the birth of Jesus. They were written by the 8th graders at Holy Spirit Catholic School in Goddard, Kansas. Instead of going deep into the actual events, I asked the students to reflect more deeply on what it would have felt like to be a certain character. I wanted their inner thoughts. Enjoy!
By: Lauren Applegate
I gaze out the window and place a hand on my stomach, the temporary home for the unborn baby inside. I cannot help but smile, for I was chosen—even in my old age—to have a child. A miracle was bestowed upon me to bear a son after countless years of waiting. I have no more tears. They are replaced by indescribable joy. The sufferings of my pregnancy bring forth only more of the reality of the miracle soon coming to bless my life. My faith in the Lord has rewarded me, and I will be forever grateful.
* * *
I greet my husband good morning, and he walks across the room and kisses me on the cheek. Though he is unable to audibly communicate, I can see the joy in his eyes, the relief of having a son to pass on his name. He may have had distrust in the Lord, but his eyes have been opened, and he now has the faith he once lacked.
Cleaning up the morning meal I shared with my husband, I feel the tiny movements of the child in my womb and smile—reminding myself that he is real. No amount of words can describe the joy I feel, nor can any person or thing keep me from rejoicing in this great miracle I’ve been blessed with.
I hear a knock on the door announcing the arrival of an unexpected guest. We weren’t expecting anyone today. I look up to see my cousin Mary and drop the clay bowl I was cleaning. It shatters on impact but the noise doesn’t break the gaze I have fixed on my cousin. For not only has she traveled 80 miles to reach me, but she too is with child. How could this be? She isn’t yet married and is only fourteen years of age. As I continue to stare at Mary, I am filled with a sense of understanding. At this moment, the baby within my womb leaps in the presence of God’s son.
Tears of joy fill the rim of my eyes. I stand in awe of all that has just happened. This baby before me is the one we have waited for all our lives, and the child in my womb was the first to proclaim it. The woman across the room is no longer just my cousin, but the mother of our Savior. The baby she carries is the King promised by God to our ancestors. He is the Messiah that will bring about our salvation.
By Siena Ensz
As the days pass, additional pain floods my hand. It hurts to move it. I have been writing continuously, putting all of my thoughts on my wax tablet. Boredom overcomes me as I continuously read thick and heavy books.
I understand my muteness is a punishment from God, but I long to speak and rejoice with Elizabeth, who has been pregnant for six months. Awaiting the birth of my son, I’m regretting my failure to trust in God.
Shortly after I finished another book, I glanced up to see Elizabeth tidying up after the morning meal. Her beautiful face was beaming with jubilation and flooded with gratitude. As I gaze at her, I’m reminded of God’s almighty and never-ending power and am thankful He has found favor with us, even though I failed to believe the absurd message.
While Elizabeth was cleaning, she stopped abruptly and dropped a ceramic, clay bowl, causing it to shatter into sharp pieces. With a shocked look imprinted upon her face, tears suddenly came. She grabbed her stomach and hurried towards the doorway.
I jumped to my feet, without understanding the events unfolding. I rushed to the doorway and saw Mary, our cousin, standing there crying with Elizabeth. Both women enveloped each other in a meaningful, warm hug. Tears gently streamed down their overjoyed faces as Elizabeth cried out joyously in awe saying, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” Instantly, a warm feeling filled my soul and I realized Mary was the mother of our Savior, the Son of God.
For the next three months, Mary stayed with us as we waited for my baby John’s birth. After he was born, our relatives and neighbors gathered, celebrating and rejoicing with us. When I saw my long-awaited son, my heart was overwhelmed with genuine love. I shed joyful tears upon looking at his sweet, gentle face. I knew my life had changed forever.
When it was time to name him, our family and close neighbors all gathered once more. They instantaneously assumed we were going to name him Zechariah, after me, but Elizabeth authoritatively said, “No; he shall be called John.”
After hearing Elizabeth’s staggering announcement, everyone was shocked. Confused and frantic, they turned to me with numerous questions, and I then wrote, “John is his name.” Immediately my mouth was opened, my tongue was freed, and I cried out the blessings of God:
“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; for he has come to his people and set them free. He has raised up for us a mighty savior, born of the house of his servant David.
“Through his holy prophets he promised of old that he would save us from our enemies, and from the hands of all who hate us. He promised to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant. This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to set us free from the hand of our enemies, free to worship him without fear, holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life.
“You, child, shall be called prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by forgiveness of their sins. In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Written by: Clare Fouts
With a firm hand on the rope that lay around my donkey’s neck, Joseph gently guides me to the next inn. His calm composure contrasts to my shaky breaths. He asks—for the third time—if any rooms are available for us, for Him, and again we are rejected. My hands begin shaking harder, not because of the cold, but because I know He is coming. Joseph meets my eyes; all I can see in his face is a desire, a need to get me and the baby to safety. It only takes him a second to register the look in my eyes, we are running out of time.
He pulls the donkey forward, and we again search for another place to stay. We’re desperate. In hopes to find shelter, we hustle to the outskirts of town—to our last chance.
“Please sir, we need a room," he begs desperately, “my wife is pregnant and the baby is coming now!”
The innkeeper's eyes study us frantically, darting back and forth, up and down. My heart drops. I can tell by his expression that he cannot give us a room; there is simply not enough space for us. Joseph continues to have a conversation with the man, but I can no longer maintain my focus; my ears are zoned out, as if hearing everything as a muffled echo. My heart beats louder and louder in my chest, like a drummer playing a drum that demands to be heard. While in the storm of my anxious thoughts, I hear a faint noise, a steady, little rhythm that remains strong but gentle, confident yet warm, loving and alive. A heartbeat, the heartbeat of a king.
This tender melody calms my breathing, steadies my shaking, and quiets my heart. As my focus sharpens again, I notice we are being pulled farther out of town toward a little stable. As we approach, I spot the largest and brightest star I have ever seen shining over the shed like a knight guarding his castle.
Joseph leads my donkey inside and ties him up with a few other barn animals as I make my way into the stable. The animals study me as I enter the hut, but seem strangely calm with the newfound presence of people. Worn down, vertical planks make up the walls. The wind rustles quietly against the barn, and a musty odor fills the space, a space meant for barn animals.
Joseph gently picks me up—while also placing a delicate kiss on my forehead—and rests me on a bed of hay. I lay relaxed, listening to my son’s heartbeat, while I watch my husband take off his outer garment and place it over the hay in the manger, which is tall enough for a donkey to eat out of but remains fairly wide with enough space for a baby to rest in. I gaze up at the hole in the roof and admire the star that seemed to appear only moments ago. I give a silent, thankful prayer to God as Joseph approaches and comforts me. It’s time.
A seemingly short while later I had Him, I had Him in my arms, the Son of God. His innocent, kind eyes search mine knowingly. In the corner of my vision I see Joseph, and a single tear gliding down his face, a tear of love, joy, passion, and awe as he watches God’s son find comfort in His mother’s arms. Through the small hole in the roof, starlight shines on Jesus, illuminating Him, proclaiming Him.
Awe, wonder, and gratitude fill my soul and overflow it, like pouring all the water in the sea into a humble little well. As I cradle Him gently, His tiny hand grips around my thumb. I gaze down at His perfect face and softly place a kiss on His head. A kiss I give to my son, a kiss I give to God.
By Jackson Puetz
Mary, my wife, and I have been traveling for nine days in the dangerous, unforgiving rocky desert, where the days are hot, and the nights are cold. We are traveling slower than I wish. Our travels have been delayed by her pregnancy; I have seen many more travelers here than anticipated. I hope I will be able to find lodging for her.
We have arrived in Bethlehem; I have knocked on many doors, and all have turned us away. Mary has been looking less and less comfortable the farther we go into Bethlehem. I reassured her that I would find somewhere for us to stay.
“Joseph! He's coming!” she whispered while looking in deep distress.
I ran to the nearest inn door. THUMP-THUMP-THUMP.
“Can I help you, sir?!?!” The innkeeper said, annoyed. I looked at him, a man who had big black bags under his eyes, who was stressed from all of the visitors. “My wife is in labor, we need a room!!!” I said frantically.
“Sorry, there's nothing much I can do, there's no room, you could stay in the stable if you absolutely need to,” the innkeeper said, yawning, pointing to the back of the building.
“Thank you, sir,” I yelled, running back to Mary picking her up off of the donkey.
“It's gonna be okay,” I said to Mary, carrying her and the savior of the universe into the stable. I looked around, finding somewhere clean to lay her. I saw no yellow hay, only brown hay littered by the slob animals living there. The smell was putrid, no king deserved to be within 200 cubits of this disgrace of a stable.
Donkeys hee-hawing, sheep baa-ing, cows mooing, horses naying, and people yelling, but through all of this, Jesus was born.
Within the hour, Mary was now holding the Savior of the world.
As shepherds came and worshiped, I looked down at my son and saw a king, a king whose arrival was foretold by prophets to save our people, who was born in a tiny little stable…
By Brier Riddel
“NO! The inn is full, there is NO room,” he hollered over the general pandamonium. Yet the crowds pressed on, demanding accommodations. “No room, NO ROOM!!” he yelled desperately as he retreated from the mob advancing on him. Once inside the safety of the entryway, the innkeeper recovered himself. “Fine, you tell me when you want to pay triple price,” he concluded. He turned away from the pressing crowd and spoke to a servant, “Shut the gates for the night and if any inside need to leave, make sure they are escorted out, as to prevent an untimely invasion of clients. Oh,” he said, turning back as he walked into the bar-room, “if there are any out there dull enough to accept this stupendous offer, please have them sent to me immediately.”
In fact, no one out there had the mind to agree to this sensible deal, so the crowd quickly dissipated, going off into the gloom to give another innkeeper a hard time. Soon there was no one visible in the area of the entryway. Meanwhile, the innkeeper went on through the night feeling he had handled the situation quite well and would not be bothered again. You see, his inn, a stabulum, was not that bad as Roman inns go (you or I would have called it seedy, but that is beside the point). He had a good income and was decently well-off. The problem was keeping it that way.
But he was very skilled at his line of work and knew how to get the most out of the influx of travelers that the Census brought to inns, while still maintaining a general order of cleanliness. The innkeeper was a person that considered his career the focal point of his life, and valued his success over all else. Now, being this kind of person, he was always busy. So he rushed to and fro, never resting, as engaged as any of his servants and quite content with his lifestyle (so he said to himself). Now, it was nearly the high of the night, and the innkeeper was supervising the activity in the bar-room when a servant walked up to him, looking quite sheepish.
“What is it?” the innkeeper said irritably, he had just begun to really enjoy himself, now free of any work.
“Well,” said the servant, “there are some travelers at the gate wishing to be let in, and-”
“Nonsense, the inn has not gotten any bigger, and it's the middle of night! Anyone should now have found decent lodging somewhere. Unless the fool has waited seven hours to agree to the deal?” Had the stupid servant not heard his request that none were to come in?
The servant knew what was going to say next would most likely get him beat and fired, but he had to try anyway. He took a step back. “A-a-as I going to say, they have a rather desperate situation-”
“Under no case is anyone to be let in!” He was annoyed now at the servant’s persistence and ignorance. Disrespectful! He turned away.
“The woman is to give birth tonight, and they have traveled far. They need lodging and none has been found!”
“What!!?” The nerve! What did he think he was saying? The room would be off limits for months during the cleansing if she was to give birth here! His inn had few rooms, losing one would be a disaster. The servant would be punished for enticing such a group to stay at his doorstep, hopeful for a room! But of course, the present plight had to be taken care of first. He marched out of the bar-room in an unusually bad temper, followed by the desperate employee. Once at the gate he stopped for a moment to curb his anger as best he could before stepping out and putting on his best business-like face. The street was nearly deserted, as it should have been at this time of night. A cart rolled by, pulled by a depressed looking pack animal, and distant laughter and music echoed down the dark, dusty street.
But, illuminated by the lamp he now held, there still stood two travelers, a couple, the man looking quite anxious, as any husband should in these circumstances, and a woman on a donkey looking very tired and obviously deep in labor. “I do not know what my ignorant servant told you, but there is no room here,” the innkeeper said, blunt, and straight to the point. He wished this to be done as soon as possible even more now, as the husband began giving him the most uncomfortable of stares as soon as he had said it. They didn’t move. “I have told you, no room! Now go on, bother someone else other than me.” Still, they did not move. So with that he turned around, but he felt a hand drag him back around to the couple.
“Here is one about to give birth, and you can not provide!” It was the husband. The wife had still not spoken.
“I see your inn, can you not open a room? Do you deny those in need?” with this he motioned at his wife.
“No no no, I would never do that,” he did not know quite how to answer this man. Or rather didn’t want to. “I guess I might be able to open a room, if you could just wait…”
“You think she can wait?!!” the man was crying. “You might be able to open a room! We cannot wait! You provide, or you don’t.” Stumbling across the entryway, this intense encounter was too much for the shaking innkeeper to stand, who had never considered when turning away a person how they would find other lodging, for it was not his business! But now, by rejecting these travelers, it very well might threaten lives. He stumbled into the inn, unable to face the couple and their donkey, to consider his choices. Meanwhile, outside, the man spoke to the servant.
“Please, you, servant, tell us a place we can stay.” The request was impossible to deny, but the servant would take pleasure in granting it. Yes, he wished greatly to assist the strangely enjoyable company, but did not know a suitable place for the individuals and their desperate and unusual case. “Anything? There must be something!” He looked at his wife and her tear streaked face, she had heard the innkeeper.
“Sir, you may check the other inns, but even the only open stable is probably leagues away from here.”
“Stable,” he half-sobbed to himself, “we cannot stay in a stable.” There was silence for a while. “But we must go soon,” the man whispered. Then, kneeling down to comfort his wife, he decided to change his mind. “Where?” The servant was alarmed. He was considering a stable! Their situation was more desperate than any he had seen!
“It is out that way,” he pointed hesitantly to a hilly region a ways away from the town. He wished there was some other way for him to help. “ A cave, up near the top of a hill. If you have searched everywhere, that place is sure to be open, if you really wish to know.”
“We must now go,” he said, and making sure the woman was firmly on the donkey, he pulled on the reins and the sad couple disappeared into the night. The miserable figure of the servant watched them slowly dissolve into the background, feeling very unhelpful but for some reason, happy they had considered his meager advice. He lifted the lantern off the hook in the wall and took it in with him, even though it was still a while till daybreak. They did not need any more visitors. Walking back into the courtyard of the inn, he found the innkeeper sitting against the wall, biting his nails.
He had come in and fell down at the first spot he could find, huffing and puffing like he had just run a marathon. Thinking of his options, which were really none. Actually, he did not at all want to have to open a room, and kept thinking up ridiculous little excuses to delay. All of the rooms were full. He was telling the truth! To be able to let them in, he would have to kick others out, and that would not be nice (or fun). It was all very absurd, and with every minute guilt kept building, and the excuses worked less. Wait! Suddenly, another thought struck him. What about all the others he had sent off into the night over the years? He leaned against the wall, thinking about all the different desperate people he had rejected over the years. There had been them, them, them, his face turned red, them, them, and more than he could count! Why had he never seen this before?
“Master, they have gone,” the voice carried across the courtyard, breaking his thought.
“Oh, have they?” the innkeeper’s answer was delayed. “Maybe I should have offered a room.”
“Maybe, but they could not wait,” the servant replied.
“Did they find anywhere to stay?” maybe they were okay!
“I don’t know, it is not likely.” Shamed, the innkeeper bowed his head.
“It’s too late?” They were both dejected, the servant sad that he could not have done more, and the innkeeper that he did not.
“Yes, they have left,” the servant said, and walked into the bar-room to continue his job. Shakily, the Innkeeper got up to follow. He was never the same again.
Months passed, many travelers went in and out of Bethlehem, and in a certain inn where an innkeeper had once bustled to and fro, always busy, never tired, a change had come. The servants had noticed it first, his usual tight attitude with them had softened, and he was rather absent-minded. Now they found him sitting down and thinking when he usually would have been found working. Then the well-off persons that had frequented his inn noticed a considerable decrease in quality, brought about by the many poorer travelers that could be seen there, for they had found it a reliable safe haven from distress. Indeed, that inn had changed much, and suddenly. One could have said it had happened overnight.
By: Lauren Lautz
I, Fabuis, the second youngest of my brothers, stood in the breezy fields along with my three other brothers: Gilbert, Mattathias, and Eleazer.
Gilbert leaned against the fence, not helping us watch the herd as he stared at the sunset sky.
“Gilbert, get off your buttocks and help!” Mattathias yelled, tired of our brother's laziness.
“No, I think you got it,” Gilbert shrugged, still looking up at the sky.
While the older brothers began arguing, Eleazar watched as the sheep grazed on the field, watching them intently. The echo of Mattathias’s and Gilbert’s voices played in the background, the field now being covered with a warm, orange glow from the setting sun.
I stood alongside Eleazer, glancing over at him and noticed Eleazar slightly itching his arm, which had been scarred while he was running through the city’s marketplace. He was not trying to cause trouble, simply in a hurry to meet with the rest of his family at their stand they had set up next to the others in the market. Eleazer had bumped into a man, who seemed to be a nobleman. The thing that scathed Eleazer was the nobleman’s jewelry, which stuck out like a dagger waiting for its next victim. Eleazer got a scolding that day and a slap to the face. The scar on his arm had now grown nasty and infected–mother said to just wash it in water everyday and father just told him that it would go away.
“Would you two stop?” I asked, growing tired of the noisiness but still looking at the sheep.
“This is a conversation between your eldest brothers, not children like you and Eleazer,” Gilbert replied, his gaze turning towards me instead of Mattathias.
Eleazer didn't seem to care for this comment, but I was the opposite, “I swear, I will let Abel eat your clothes if you don’t come and help us.”
I pointed towards one of the sheep we had named Abel. Why name one sheep out of almost hundreds of sheep? Because Abel acted more like a termite. He ate our clothes and hair if we came too close to him, and he had only one eye and a crooked leg like a retired soldier of some animalistic war.
“We need to slaughter that beast one day,” Mattathias shook his hand, walking back over to me and the distracted Eleazer.
Gilbert followed suit, “I’m surprised he hasn't dropped dead on his own.”
“Speaking of slaughtering lambs, did you manage to sell any mutton while in the market?” I looked away from the sheep and towards Mattathias, who had run the family stand this morning on his own.
Mattathias sighed, “No, those fancy folk up north decide to place their stand right next to us. They basically stole all of our customers.”
Eleazer snapped back to reality, “Curse them!” He stood up and shook his fist at the setting sun.
Gilbert didn’t add anything to the conversation, glancing at the baaing sheep. I didn't speak either. Mattathias, being the second oldest, was the wiser one. Eleazer was the wide-eyed, but not childish, youngest brother, who was always angry with the world's lack of equality–and I couldn't blame him.
“They’re trying to make money to feed their families, just like us,” Mattathias patted Eleazers head.
“I know, but it's unfair–they’re already rich,” Eleazer grumbled, shooing Mattathias away. Eleazer pouted as he looked away. I'd agree with both of them, for it was unfair but they also have a purpose and reason to earn money, but I wouldn't speak my opinion out loud. And so, we all stood there in silence, an average occurrence for me and my brothers.
“So, have you heard that we may be able to get some oxen to help with plowing the fields?” Gilbert broke the awkward silence that was among us.
“Really? Are you sure our father has enough shekels?” I asked, skeptical of the outlandish statement. Probably just a way to trick us or change the subject I suppose.
“We still have to sell a few more things, whether that is at the market or in our home, but he said we should be able to buy some soon,” Gilbert explained.
“That’s good to hear, every time I plow the fields it feels like my back is going to break any second,” Eleazer said with a huff.
I sighed as well, a mix of relief and exhaustion. The sun was no more but a memory, a deep bluish light slowly rising in its place. The air smelt crisp, with rhode grass and cold wind following through the skies. I stood still for a moment, letting the air flow around me, then Abel started chewing on my simlāh.
“Gah!” I yelped, pushing Abel away with my knee, my simlāh had enough holes in it anyways. Abel yelped back at me like a grumpy old man, then went back to bullying the other sheep. All of my brothers turned to me after this interaction, another awkward silence falling among us.
Gilbert faced towards the sky, “Have you been noticing that star in the sky?” He interrupted the silence again.
“Indeed, it's quite bright,” Eleazer nodded, looking up at the burning star as well.
Mattathias switched the subject back to the oxen, “So about those oxen, how much longer until we will have enough to purchase them?”
Mattathias and I watched as Eleazer and Gilbert ignored us, their faces illuminated by the shimmering star and glistening moon. Mattathias, not satisfied with being ignored, grumbled something along the lines of ‘Fine then, just ignore me and…’ The rest was a mystery to me. I decided to also turn towards the star, which was very prominent in comparison to the other stars in the black ink. Mattathias joined in on the staring contest with the bright celestial, confused on what was so interesting about it.
As we were staring more bright lights came upon us, but these lights were not coming from the stars. “Good Heavens!” Gilbert and Mattathias shouted in unison as they stepped back from the dazzling lights.
Eleazer was distracted as always, staring at the lights as they started to flick into human-like figures, but I was just as silent as he was. Was this how I die? No, death didn't feel so magical and warm. Did a fire start? No, fires don't dance across the fields in triumphant chorus, singing with its fellow flames. Did a miracle happen?
“Praise the Lord our God, for our King has been born!” the figure in the middle said, radiating a golden glow in the mix of midnight sky. All four of us stood there in shock, staring at the choir of spirits. “Be not afraid, for I am an angel of God.”
The reassurance certainly didn't help calm my nerves. An angel? Why us? We weren't any type of prophet, neither were we of any significance.
“Angel? Why has God sent you to us? And what is this King?” I spoke up spontaneously, speaking my thoughts out loud.
“We have been sent by God to tell of a babe that has been born in Bethlehem. This child is the child of God,” the angel spoke with delight, then pointed towards the star we were looking at earlier. “Our King lies under that star, and you are to visit him and bring him praise.”
I had this feeling of anticipation, of excitement deep within my soul. The joyous sea of voices played in the background, bringing more glee into my heart.
Gilbert finally spoke, still looking worried, “What must we bring as an offering to praise this King?”
“A joyous soul,” the angel said with a nod, disappearing as quickly as it appeared.
We all sat there in silence, shooketh. The sheep seemed just as shocked and stood behind us, except for Abel, which was eating grass the entire encounter like nothing happened. Blind beast.
All four of us looked at each other, waiting for someone to speak up.
Eleazer slowly moved over to the barn, leading the herd with him, “We need to see this King immediately.”
Mattathias slowly followed him, still trying to process the miraculous encounter.
Gilbert stared at the ground, looking up at me from time to time. I glanced back at him, both of us not knowing what to say. Mattathias and Eleazer eventually came back, just as silent as. I then looked up at the star, pointed at it, and stated, “We must follow this star to our King.”
We walked across the night of Bethlehem, following the glow of the star. We crossed through alleyways and streets, searching silently for our King. The last thing we expected the light to shine upon was a stable behind an inn.
The stable stood casually, but the glow of the star shined a spotlight and coziness upon it, “This is the place,” I mumbled. We slowly walked inside the stable, a woman sitting in the middle with a small child with others surrounding her with praise.
I immediately knew that this baby the woman was holding was the one the angels sang about, the King, our Savior.
I looked over at my brothers, who were still speechless in awe and wonder. I, Fabuis, the second youngest of my brothers, got on my knees and praised our Savior’s coming.
The angels echoed in song.
Portrayed by Natalie Goodwin
I’m the king of Judea. I’ve ruled for a while, and everyone loves me, because if they don’t, they get hunted down by my soldiers. I’m a magnificent ruler. Here’s an example of one of my genius, brilliant acts as king:
It happened about two weeks ago. I was having a wonderful, perfect week. My bronze sculptures were gleaming exceptionally bright. My servants were working flawlessly, and my soldiers had spotted no apparent threats. Everything was going smoothly… until the wise men came. They thought they could just barge into my territory and tell me some child was going to take my throne! Did they know who I was!? (The meeting was arranged, I know, but I’m convinced they were going to walk right into my land with or without my permission.)
When they entered the throne room, I was lounging on my throne, examining the shining golden rings that adorned my fingers, feigning boredom.
“Why do you need to enter Judea?” I asked, letting my voice take on a disinterested tone. I moved on to study a gold, jewel-encrusted goblet, slowly turning it to admire the way its gleaming surface reflected the light as it rotated.
“We are here to honor the newborn king,” the tallest of the wise men replied.
I froze, my body going rigid. I slowly raised my gaze to look at them. They were all finely dressed, wearing enough gold to make clear that they were no common travelers. I clenched the goblet so hard my knuckles turned white.
Newborn!? I thought furiously. They think I’m going to give up my throne to an infant!?
I talked with my advisors briefly before summoning the “wise men” for a private meeting. I was livid. Of course, being the amazing king I am, I made the travelers comfortable and treated them kindly. I encouraged them to find the child and then come tell me where to find him. I knew my palace could house a large number of guests, but I wanted the wise men to find the child as soon as possible. Also, frankly, I was more than happy to be rid of them. I said to them, “Go and search for the child. After you find him, come and report to me, so I may also honor him.”
After they had departed, I finally allowed myself a grin. Those three wealthy travelers had no reason to suspect I might be playing them. When they returned, I would send soldiers to kill the baby. I was going to keep my throne, no matter what it took, and if they didn’t like it, I’d kill them, too. Of course, I might have done that anyway, just to get rid of the evidence.
Everything was lining up perfectly.
The Wise Men
By: Sean Ziesch
Our camels strode closer to the magnificent palace in the town of Jerusalem, a palace built with a beautiful array of stone. Our animals contained the same fixed pace for hundreds of kilometers without an inkling of exhaustion. The gatekeeper, who was cloaked in shining silver armor, straightened his stance, ready for the oncoming visitors. We told him, “We have arranged a meeting with the great King of Judea.”
The enormous doors swung open. We slid down the sides of our camels, leaving them to be tended to by the royal equine groom and walked inside. The interior of the palace was elegant with golden ornaments at the pinnacle of the wall, which was lined with scarlet red drapes. We walked down a velvet carpet stretching all the way to the foot of his mighty throne. King Herod was lounging in his magnificent and golden chair covered in fineries of jewels wearing extravagant clothing. We came closer to Herod asking, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and come to worship him.”
Herod seemed greatly troubled with the words we shared with him. He had a sort of fearful tone as he sent to Bethlehem saying, “Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.”
After an immense feast, we walked out of the palace, pondering the words that King Herod had shared with us. Something about him seemed inconclusive–the way he had a fearing look on his face, the tone in his voice. We three scholars rode long and far, through deserts bare, valleys deep, over hills mighty, venturing to the town of Bethlehem where we sought the King to be, due to our measurement of the star’s placement in the night sky. The stone streets made of cobble, bustled with middle class civilian life. We slid through the large crowds of people traveling for the census like a knife cuts through water. The star, a bright phenomena in the sky with a beam of light coming out of the bottom, was shining directly over a stable.
There, gleaming with light, was the long–awaited infant sent from God to save the entire world from its wretched state, swaddled in radiant white garments, alay in a manger surrounded, not by a large crowd bowing before a king, but by farm animals lounging in their filthy stable. We walked towards the king with the utmost respectful manner, placing our lavish gifts at his side. The mother then looked at us softly as if she was sending us a message saying ‘Thank you’.
We then asked, “What have you named this child?”
I felt a type of feeling that science and proper explanation cannot explain, but a sort of powerful feeling as those words rolled off her tongue. We paid our homage and gratitude to the child. We climbed atop our camels and rode home. We came to the conclusion after a large amount of conversing to not pass through Jerusalem when we travel back to our homeland, but to pass through the city of Egypt.
It started out on an ordinary day. I woke up on my pallet, yawning. I used a pitcher of water to wash off my face, then I brushed my teeth with a frayed birch twig.
I put on my inner garments and thinking about the church, I put on my oversized t-shirt. I leaned down to put on my leather sandals. Breakfast was some sweet red berries.
As usual, I walked about a mile and a half to the temple. I walked in and sat down, praying for the messiah to come. All of a sudden, I saw an ordinary family with a mom holding a baby and the dad carrying two doves.
A spark of joy filled my heart, and I felt the Holy Spirit tell me, “The baby is the Messiah.” Awe and wonder pierced me.
I slowly walked towards them, and I asked the special family if I could hold the baby. The mother said yes and when I saw the baby's eyes I was filled with joy and bliss. When I looked back at the mom, I told her words that the Holy Spirit told me to say to her: "Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed"
She was standing there calmly. I knew that my life was complete. While holding the baby I said, “Now, God you may let your servant die in peace”
I sat on a mat next to my father as he told my siblings and me a story.
“Anna,” my father said with a smile, “this is your favorite.”
I scooted closer to my father as he cleared his throat for the story. My little sister climbed up onto his lap and sat perfectly still as she listened.
My father, Phanuel, began his story, “Long ago our God made man and woman. Together they lived in peace until the evil one came. They were told not to eat from the tree in the center of the garden but the woman was tricked into sinning. She ate the forbidden fruit, along with the man. Then God became angry and banished the man and woman from the garden. Later when time passed the prophets told us that our God would give us a messiah. He would become a king and would save us from the Roman empire. I look forward to the day when the Romans are finally gone. Now my children, it's time for bed.”
I was disappointed that the story had finished. I got up and started off to my room. Suddenly, I stopped abruptly and ran back to my father and gave him a big hug.
“Good night, Father,” I whispered. I could hear his heartbeat as I leaned up against him.
He replied with a tender and soft voice, “Good night, my little Anna.”
Years passed and I was betrothed to a man named Isḥāq. When we married we were surrounded by family and friends celebrating our special day.
I always wanted to be a mother, and after a couple years of happiness my friends always asked me if I would ever have a child and I said, “If God wills it.” So, I prayed to God asking him to grant me a child. My husband and I celebrated our seven years of marriage with a small dinner with lamb and leavened bread that I had prepared myself. Weeks later Isḥāq’s health started fading quickly, and there was nothing we could do about it. Isḥāq passed away shortly after our anniversary and I was left alone with nothing.
As a widow the taxes were a heavy burden that caused me to lose my home. I turned to God in these hard moments. I asked the high priest if he would let me stay in the temple. He agreed and told me that I could stay as long as I do something to stay active while I was in the temple.
As I lived here, I began studying the Torah and was able to become a prophetess. I knew that the Messiah would come and save me, so I preached everyday. I stayed day and night, worshiping the Lord.
“God, please allow me to see the Messiah before I go from this world,” I pleaded.
I felt like He had heard my prayer and he would keep his promise. Many years passed and I was getting very old. I still prayed to see the Messiah but as the hours, the days, the weeks, and the years rolled by, my faith in living to see Him faded.
Until one day I thought I heard God’s voice saying, “Turn around Anna. For I have kept my promise with you.”
I turned slowly and was filled with the Holy Spirit. I saw a couple walk into the temple- the woman was holding a newborn child and the man was carrying two doves. Simeon, a devout and holy person, ran up to them and held the baby and then he said something to the mother of the child, which made her face turn pale, but as she looked toward her baby, her pale face was replaced with calmness and reassurance.
Simeon turned, with the baby in his arms, trying to find me until his eyes rested on mine. He nodded and I was filled with joy. I walked as quickly as I could toward Simeon and the Family. Simeon placed the child in my arms and for a second I thought that I would never have seen the Messiah, but I was holding him. The baby cooed as I looked into his eyes, but as I continued to look into them I can see that this child was not meant to be the king we had thought him to be, He would go through pain, suffering, and rejection. I look at the mother and the father of the child with gratitude but also sadness.
I looked up to the heavens and said aloud, “God you have kept thy promise to me and I shall praise for the rest of my time here on earth.”
I heard Simeon say, “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word.”
Before I placed the child back in the mothers arms I placed a kiss on top of His tiny head and let them proceed through the temple. I looked up into the sky and praised God for sending Him, the one who would save us from sin and death.
Final Note from Mrs. Lori Doerneman: I love middle school students. They have immense depth, yet they still have the hearts of children. May your heart be filled with the love of the Infant Jesus, who came to BE one of us, so we could be with Him forever.
I'm Lori Doerneman
Wife. Mom. Catholic.
Idealist with 8 kids,
keeping it real.
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