In 2015 we painted different scenes of the advent and Christmas story on pieces of wood. Each week another scene/piece of wood was added. At the beginning of the service a thought was given, the faith community reflected on it with each other, the time was drawn to a close as the advent candle was lit on top of each scene. There was also a significant reflection given from the person in each scene.
Advent 1 – Hope – Angels
We wait in hope. Waiting is sometimes hard. Waiting on a promise is even harder. When? What? How will it happen? Hope is about believing in something new, something that will change how things have been. Hope can be a new beginning.
Advent is about waiting in Hope. Two thousand years ago people were waiting, waiting for a Saviour. In the world today, there is lots of suffering and pain and we can’t always see a way out of the misery.
Let us think of what we hope for. What do we really want in our lives? Spend some time reflecting on this or talking about it with your neighbour.
Lord, sometimes it is hard to see hope in the middle of hardship, sometimes we forget to look to you. Give us hope. Hope in our daily lives. Hope for our future, Hope for our family. Hope for our world. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
We all knew something was happening. There was a lot of activity, lots of private meetings and discussion and literally hoards of angel’s practicing their Hallelujah’s and then I got the call. The LORD wanted to see me for a special role.
It’s hard to explain. We’re angels we live and walk in the Lord’s presence all the time, but when you get called into his throne room, let’s just say you don’t bow because you have to, you bow because the awesome, loving, grace-filled power of God is so incredible that there is no other way to be.
It was then that I realised that this was nothing compared to what we’d done so far. The LORD has always tried to connect with humanity… we’re talking dreams and visions, burning bushes, pillars of fire, voices and occasionally angels. There have been rules and laws, prophets and promises, floods and famines; constant reminders of the LORD’S power and nothing has worked. But this idea took the cake.
This is important, the LORD told me. I don’t want a team, I just want you. You need to be present, she needs to see you and you need to stay with her. This is too important to leave to chance. It must unfold as it does, but you must be there too, to ensure that nothing goes wrong.
“Are you sure about this LORD?” I asked, feeling more than a little worried. “It seems a terrible risk to take”.
The LORD looked at me, eyes both loving and yet almost sad. “I AM willing to take this risk. This is what must happen. These events were set in motion before the beginning, when the Word spoke. Have you seen the star?”
I nodded, we had all seen it, we knew what it was heralding. The LORD nodded and smiled, the power almost knocking me off my feet.
“Go my Child. You go with my Blessing”.
I found her easily enough, Mary. A nice young girl, recently engaged to a local carpenter. She was known as a respectful and honourable young woman. She was sleeping and I woke her. She was startled, well who wouldn’t be, it’s not often you find an angel sitting on the chair in your bedroom. And so I told her, that she was going to bear the LORD’s son and that he was going to be the Messiah.
If I am honest, I was actually dreading this, telling someone they are going to have a baby before they’ve got married and that the father is the LORD is really “out there”. She was pretty surprised and asked how it would happen, which was a good question and way outside of my understanding so I just reassured her that the LORD would make it happen and she should call her baby Jesus.
I withdrew and watched her. I wondered what was so special about her. She was one of many young, devout and respectful girls I had seen in her village. She was not overly beautiful, she was not highly intelligent nor particularly vivacious. There was nothing that marked her as extraordinary. I wondered about this as I watched her, waiting for her to rest. I wasn’t sure that she should be the person to carry this new way.
She would have thought I was gone, but I was just not visible to her eyes. She had been sitting on her bed, quietly, thinking maybe? Then suddenly she is on her knees on the ground whispering and I caught the first sentence. “My Soul magnifies the Lord”. Tears came to my eyes as I realised that the LORD had chosen well. Many young women would have cried, panicked, or doubted or at the very least taken some time to come to terms with what had happened yet she almost immediately praised the Lord. This is what the LORD had seen in her. There was a humility but also a willingness, a sacrificial love and devotion to God that I had not seen. She was so far above the other young girls, her very ordinariness hid her extraordinary faith. She no longer seemed plain to me, her gentle face was glowing with sacrifice and tears, her head bowed in humility, her whole body in an attitude of service and love. It was then I had HOPE. Hope that this wild and crazy plan of the LORD would come to pass, because of this young woman. She was beautiful and she was blessed by the LORD.
Advent 2 – Joy – Mary
We wait in Joy. Waiting is sometimes hard. Waiting with Joy is often really hard. How much joy is there in the unknown? Joy is laughter, it is excitement, it is happiness. It is in the first cry of a new baby, the first laughter, it is in running breathless down the beach and holding hands with a loved one.
Advent is about waiting in Joy, in the excitement and anticipation of our Saviour. Sometimes it’s easier to understand Joy because we have all experienced excitement and anticipation. But finding the Joy in long drawn out waiting is difficult.
Let us think about what gives us Joy? How do we find it? Spend some time reflecting on this or talking about it with your neighbour.
Lord, sometimes it is hard to be Joyful. Sometimes the mundane and ordinary can distract us from finding joy and happiness and the good in our lives. Give us Joy. Give us Joy in the small things, to sustain us in the hard times and the Joy knowing that your love and your sacrifice has given us new life. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen
There are some things that are meant to happen. It was very clear from when I was very young that there was a process to follow. You learn what you need to know to run a home and then you get married. I learned to do my chores quickly and effectively, I gardened, I worked the loom, I cared for my younger siblings and those of my aunts and uncles. I helped my mother at the market, I bartered for the things we needed. I attended temple and eventually caught the eye of Joseph, the carpenter.
Many girls and their families had their eye on him. He was good with wood, and he had taken the family trade over when his father was sick. He was reliable and resourceful. He would be able to provide for a family and he was a godly man. And somehow, he noticed me.
My father did not give me up easily, he haggled for some time with Joseph’s and his father, over my dowry, over what I was worth and what he was losing should I marry. He was proud that I was considered so desirable yet didn’t want them to think that he would just give me away nor did my dowry to be the only thing that mattered. I never found out what the outcome was except that we were betrothed and soon we would join together in his father’s house. I was nervous and excited. We prepared food, clothing, gifts and the animals that I would bring. Everything was working out as it should have.
I’ve heard of angels, and I’ve heard the Torah read. The LORD speaks to us in dreams and visions, it is clear from our holy books. But when I woke to the presence of the angel I was truly surprised. And when he told me I was with child I was shocked. My first thought was about Joseph; how could I tell him? And then I thought, how on earth did that happen? The idea of having the LORD’s son?!!
The angel went away eventually and I sat quietly, not so much praying as resting. In spite of what I had been told and what I knew would be the battle ahead, I felt nothing but peace and… joy. I slipped to my knees, and prayed, tears of Joy and sacrifice falling to the ground. I remembered my cousin Elizabeth and her miraculous pregnancy. And I realised that we had both been truly blessed by the LORD. That Joy stayed with me through the night.
I met with Joseph the next day. My family were visiting my aunt and uncle in the next town, they needed some help. I suggested I stay behind to continue my wedding preparations, and they agreed. I walked through the fields to Joseph’s home.
I felt my first flash of doubt when I saw the look on his face as I told him. I am with child I said. The Lord has blessed me and I will bear his Son and he will be the Messiah. He took a step back and opened his mouth but did not speak. His body was tense, his face was like stone. His eyes flashed with anger and he opened his mouth again but again, nothing came out. I kept my head down, it was not the done thing to look directly at a man anyway, but I watched him in the corner of my eye. I could feel the emotion building in my heart.
I pushed the tears away, willing my voice to stay steady. I prayed for strength and I felt my shoulders straighten and my head lifted to look in to his eyes. “I realise this must be hard to accept. I will give you some time to think and pray over this”. I turned and walked away, not daring to look back. When I finally did he was still standing there, I don’t think he had moved.
Advent 3 – Peace – Joseph
We wait in peace. Waiting is sometimes hard. Waiting for peace is even harder. We constantly seek peace in our lives, in our world. Peace is rest, contentment, safety. Peace is found in forgiveness, in restoration, in contemplation.
Advent is about waiting for peace. Sometimes our hearts and minds are in turmoil, our lives uncomfortable, anger and frustration taking the upper hand, feeling stressed and pulled many ways. Finding peace in our world filled with hatred and violence feels almost impossible.
Let us think about peace. How do we find it? Spend some time reflecting on this or talking about it with your neighbour.
Lord, sometimes peace is hard to come by. Sometimes we are burdened by the difficulties of our lives, and see so many problems in the world to believe that peace is possible. Give us peace, the promise of peace that passes all understanding, given to us through Jesus. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen
I am a carpenter. I work with wood. There is beauty in the gentle shaping and smoothing of the wood beneath my hands, of creating either practical or beautiful things. There are many skills that I have which mean my work is in high demand. My father taught me my craft and I will teach my sons.
It took me some time to choose a wife. I would see the girls at temple, their heads covered, sitting with their mother’s and younger siblings, keeping an eye on babies and toddlers. I would see them at market, selling, bargaining, working. Mary caught my eye because she was not one of the ones who pushed herself forward. She did her work, she was clearly trusted by her parents, she was devout and her family were well respected. I had found the woman I would marry, she would help my mother as she aged and give me children. Her father did not give her easily either and my father, in spite of his health, had to negotiate in goods and trade for some time before an arrangement was made. As we sealed our agreement with an embrace, Mary walked in herself, carrying a tray of food and drink. She did not look up as she carefully placed it on the low table but I couldn’t help but look at her. And suddenly she glanced at me, her cheeks blushed faintly and I smiled at her. She ducked her head down and left hastily but I thought I caught a glimpse of a happy smile back. I relaxed back into the cushions as my father and hers laughed and poured some wine together.
A few days later I had just come out of my workshop when I saw her walking through the fields. I was surprised to say the least, normally we did not spend much time alone though we were betrothed. I offered her a drink but she declined. She asked to speak in private and so we walked a bit away from the house and there she told me she was with child.
I am not a man of violent emotion but I felt hurt. Anger rose within me and I opened my mouth but as the ugly words were about to come I felt as if an invisible hand had covered my mouth. I stopped and looked at her, all humble and quiet looking, her eyes on the ground. How could she do this to me? The appearance of morality and purity yet… I tried again but still the words would not come.
Then she looked at me, her head and shoulders straight. I think it was the first time she had looked at me directly. Her gaze was unwavering, she told me she was giving me time to think and pray and walked away. I couldn’t move, I saw her walk away and I felt tears falling down my face. I saw her glance back before disappearing and I wiped my eyes impatiently. I couldn’t believe what was happening.
That night sleep did not come easily. I tossed and turned and eventually decided that I would cancel the wedding but do it quietly, no one needed to know the reasons right away, they’d find out soon enough. It would be more than enough for her to deal with that then than putting her through too much now.. Feeling relieved I dozed off. Then I woke, and saw the angel.
The angel told me to not be afraid (in all seriousness, not be afraid? Who was he kidding? There was an angel in my ROOM!). He said I should take Mary as my wife, that the LORD had blessed her and that we should call him Jesus. So much for sleeping, I lay awake all night wondering what was going to happen next.
I went to her home the next day. Her mother greeted me like a son and fussed around giving me food and drink. Mary quietly asked her to leave and she did, shooting curious looks in my direction. Mary looked at me directly again, her brown eyes, clear and unapologetic.
“I wish to marry you” I said. “The Lord has told me that what you said is true, that you will have his Son and his name is to be Jesus.”
The look she gave me made my heart leap. She reached out and took my hand in hers. My hands were large and calloused. Her hands were small and gentle. She smiled at me. For the first time since her news, I felt peace settle upon my heart.
“It will not be easy” she said. That was an under statement! I knew what she meant though. Even though I knew in my heart that I was making the right decision, in spite of my newly found peace, I knew also that we would be talked and gossiped about, that we would lose friends and even put our marriage agreement at risk. “I know” I said quietly “but God is with us”.
Advent 4 – Love – Jerusalem (Joseph & Mary’s Journey)
We wait in Love. Waiting is sometimes hard. Waiting for love is even harder. We want love, true love, to run through our lives. Love is laughter, love is giving, love is sacrifice. Love is found in both the ordinary and the extraordinary.
Let us think about Love. Where is love? What is love. Spend some time reflecting on this or talking about it with your neighbour.
Lord, Sometimes love is hard. Hard to find. Hard to do. Hard to be. Sometimes we can spend our whole lives seeking perfect love. Give us love. Give us love for those who we care for. Help us to choose love every day. Give us love during the hard times. Help us to receive the love that you have for us, the love that you showed us in Jesus. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen
I don’t know if Mary really understands. We have to register at my family’s home town in Bethlehem and as my future wife, she needs to be with me. And she doesn’t know what it’s been like the last few months. While she was visiting her cousin Elizabeth, I’ve been hearing all the innuendo and gossip about her pregnancy. I’ve had people cross the road rather than speak with me, several people have withdrawn their orders for furniture and one of the families who had been courting Mary’s sister suddenly withdrew their offer. I’ve even had probing questions from one of the Pharisees at the temple about everything that has happened. I hardly knew what to say.
I don’t know if Joseph really understands. I know he needs to register for the census but travelling all the way to Bethlehem in my condition, so close to my time is risky. I wanted to be with my mother and aunts when I delivered. Ever since I became a woman I have been part of the stories. Giving birth is at best difficult and at worst results in the loss of mother and child. There are so many things that could happen and I want the women who love and care for me with me at that moment. I don’t know if I could bear the loss of this precious child, I don’t want to fail at this.
I know that it’s been hard, my sister is barely talking to me since her suitor stopped coming. My mother is angry at Joseph for wanting me to go with her and his family are angry at me for trapping him into marriage.
Our trip is long. Mary can only travel so far in a day so the trip is much longer than I expected. I would have made it easily in three days, but we are now on our 5th. She has even taken to riding the donkey I hired to carry our possessions. She barely speaks, I don’t know if it is because she has no energy or if she is still angry with me.
I don’t think I can go much longer but at last we get to the outskirts of Bethlehem. Joseph is relieved and he takes us to his cousin’s home, where he has arranged to stay. We knock and wait and the door is opened but the conversation is short. Joseph comes down the steps looking angry and disappointed. He does not have room, he said that he had forgotten we were coming and he has no more space.
I look at him properly for the first time. His shoulders are tense and he is looking annoyed.
There must be somewhere else I said. He nods, yes, I have a number of cousins and family here. We will find something.
After the 6th refusal I realise that if we don’t find somewhere soon, we are in trouble. Mary is looking more and more exhausted. I watch her for a minute as she sits in a square, her hand clenches tightly around the cup of water I have given her and her face grimaces.
We go to our final stop, my cousins’ wife’s brother’s home. To my surprise we are invited in. They are apologetic when we explain our request but a hasty discussion reveals that while their upper rooms are full, one of the stalls in the lower part of the house is clean and while there are animals nearby, we could stay there.
The pains started at the 2nd house. Just light at first, not long or strong but by the 6th house a few hours later I realise that I am truly in labour. We are shown our space. It is clean, freshly swept with some bales of hay in the corner. They find us some bedding to add to our own and the women apologise that it is all they have. I am grateful for their kindness, the first we have received all day and I realise some of what Joseph had tried to tell me about what he has been facing the last few months. I look at him, he is standing in the middle of the room, his whole body slumped and miserable as he looks around the sparse room which smells of hay and animals.
Joseph I say. He turns around, surprised at the sound of my voice. I am surprised too, it feels like years since I have spoken. I think my time is coming soon. I gesture to my belly and his eyes widen with shock.
Are you sure? He asked coming closer
I half laugh and half cry, no, not really, I don’t really know what is happening. But the pains are coming regularly and that is a sign. He nods and reaches hesitantly for my hand. The look in his eyes is different, and I realise how hard it must be for him to be so strong against so much rejection and judgement.
Holding Mary’s hand, I look into her eyes. Then she bends over, groaning slightly, breathing in and out for a minute or so, squeezing my hand so tightly I can feel my fingers tingle when she loosens her grip. Then she straightens and looks at me again. I can see tears, fear and that steely resolve that has impressed me from the beginning as well as challenging me. I remember suddenly the baby my mother lost when I was young. How my uncle’s wife died in childbirth. I have no idea how to midwife a woman, I have never been present at any birth, and now she must do this in the house of virtual strangers. I realise the cost of this trip, being away from her family, from the women who have gone down this path before her, with all their knowledge and experience.
I will go and tell the women here I say, releasing her hand. They will help us. They can be with you when our son comes. I move towards the door but she stops me and steps forward. In her eyes is something different. She embraces me for the first time, I can feel the child within her moving against my stomach. I place a gentle kiss on her head, realising that in spite of the difficulties of these months, there is a love there. That love is starting to grow between us as it should.
Christmas – Birth of Jesus – The Shepherds and Mary
This Advent season we have journeyed with an angel, Mary and Joseph. They have journeyed to Bethlehem. Today Shepherd’s give testimony to the birth of Christ. The birth of a baby with Angels, and Mary’s Joy gave Peace to Joseph and Love to the Holy Family as they took on their new journey of growth and change.
It is easy, in a place such as this, of peace and beauty, familiar faces, surrounded by friends, to be touched by these things, but how much harder it is to embody these things in the world outside.
Reflecting on the last four weeks, which part was easy? Which was hard? Did we find some hope in our lives amid the sadness and destruction? Did we find Joy in the ordinary and the mundane? Maybe we found a place of Peace in a time of upheaval, maybe we were reminded what Love really means? Spend a few moments talking with your neighbour about something that has really struck you over the past four weeks.
Lord, our waiting has ended.
Your Son has been born.
Hope, joy, peace and love have won over fear, sadness, hatred and indifference.
Help us to keep these things in our hearts. Help them to overflow into our lives and the lives of the people around us. Help us be your messengers of the hope, joy, peace and love that we find in your Son. Amen.
I don’t think I will forget the moment I saw my first born. He was placed on my chest and let out a cry far louder than I expected. Relief and joy flooded my heart. The women worked quietly, cleaning, bringing me water, clean cloths to rub down the baby. He nestled around and found what he needed, and they covered me with a warm soft blanket. Peace settled on me as I held my baby and I look for Joseph. He comes into the room, slowly, as if afraid and I smile at him. He crouches down and touches a tentative finger to our babies cheek. He is beautiful he says.
We sit for some time, as the women busy themselves with sorting things out, they are talking quietly about the birth, the baby, his vigour and strength and about a huge star that has been seen in the sky and wondering how something like that could happen so suddenly.
The baby has fallen asleep at my breast. I gently wrap some cloths around him and ease him into a manger that has been laid with fresh straw and some soft cloths. He is here. My miracle baby. I am a mother, his mother, for all time.
I am a Shepherd. I take my responsibility seriously. Looking after animals might not be a particularly popular or glamorous job but it is a serious one. These animals are people’s livelihood, they provide milk and meat and status, they are not to be harmed or lost. There are many wild animals in the fields around our town and they take advantage of young lambs who lag behind or older animals past their prime.
But it is long and lonely work and tiring also. I gather the flock near some trees and some fellow shepherds join me from nearby.
We light a fire, for comfort and to keep the wild animals at bay. We talk quietly, discussing our families, our work, the health of our animals but mostly about the new star that has appeared. There is speculation, maybe it is a comet? Someone has heard from someone that it is the sign of a King and we scoff at the idea. What King would have the power to control the stars?
Suddenly the whole sky is filled with the brightest light I have every seen. It is more than sunlight, it is blinding. We fall to the ground, shielding our eyes. And a voice tells us to not be afraid that a Saviour has been born in Bethlehem and that we will find a baby in a manager. Then we hear singing.
Have you ever heard angels sing? Think of the most pure and beautiful sound you have ever heard. Then imagine it even more so. It brought tears to my eyes and my heart filled with a sense of awe and wonder. They sung glory to God, peace and goodwill to everyone on earth and just as suddenly they left. Our eyes and ears were dulled by what we had just seen. We could feel the cool breeze, the ground beneath our knees, we could hear the soft noises of the animals nearby.
“We must go,” I said, my voice loud in the quietness. “We must go and see this Saviour.” I get up and they follow, we leave everything as we walk down the hills, we see the star, we seem to be getting closer, we start to jog and then to run, making our way through the empty streets, tripping over rocks but not stopping and finally we find the place.
There are some men here to see the baby. It is the older woman of the house, the one who delivered my baby. She has a quizzical and concerned look on her face. They say that they must see their Saviour.
A thrill of terror and fear runs through my body. I struggle up from my bed and check on the baby, he is quiet and sleeping. I pick him up and nod my agreement. Joseph rouses and looks at me in confusion.
A ragtag bunch of men come in, Shepherds by the look and the smell. They kneel down before us and bow.
It was as the angel said. A baby, in his mother’s arms, in a stable. He is only hours old, but I know that he is the right one. The One. The Saviour. I explain to his mother what happened, what we saw. Her eyes grow bigger and bigger and she holds the baby even closer. Her husband puts his arm around her and they look at us with disbelief.
He is the Saviour of the world I tell them, joy and excitement making my words tumble out. The young woman nods, “Yes,” she says quietly. “He is.” She smiles at me and we gather closer to look at this baby who will change the world.
After a time we leave, racing to get back to our animals, we run through the streets again shouting and praising the Lord.
I lie back down, my baby in my arms now. He will need feeding soon and then I will rest again. I think about what just happened, complete strangers visiting me, knowing what my baby will be. This is far far bigger than I had realised.
Christmas 1 – Angels
Jesus, when you came, the Angels worshipped your advent amongst us. They gave testimony of your coming to the shepherds.
Help us to also give testimony to your work in and amongst us, and in the world around us. Amen.
It was an important job. Sure everyone was talking about Gabriel’s job, being a personal messenger, keeping Mary and Joseph safe, but I was tasked with being a messenger to the people too. The Lord had commanded me to create a host of angels to proclaim his Son’s birth. It is a challenge. I have to hold auditions, and I can tell you that angels are not good at being rejected. I can’t have thousands. A host is only around a 100 and I want a 100 of the best singers, not just any old croaker. It might say make a joyful noise unto the Lord in the religious texts but that is definitely not what we want here.
And the dramas! They won’t practice when asked, they instead point-out that they “sing to the Lord all the time.” Glorifying God is what they do they say; it is not a challenge to sing to mere mortals. I try to share the importance of what we are doing. This is the first time in human history that we will be presenting ourselves like this to people on earth, in our full heavenly glory. This will be a a divine event in the human world, but do they take me seriously? Sometimes I don’t know if they realise how important this is, how unusual, how special it will be.
When I get my final instructions from the LORD though, I am disappointed. Shepherds. I mean, Shepherds?! I thought at least we would be proclaiming this news to Kings and those of great authority but no, shepherds. The LORD reminds me to reassure them, that seeing a host of angels would be surprising for any person. I nod hastily and bow and leave, inwardly seething at my job. Shepherds?
The waiting is long. I am on alert the whole time, trying to keep in contact with Gabriel to get an idea of when things might be happening but he is too busy to pay much attention and brushes me off. Finally the baby is born and suddenly all of heaven exploded in light and song… the LORD had managed to survive the perilous journey to life and now it was my time to shine.
I found the Shepherds, huddled by a fire, quietly and sleepily talking. We broke through from heaven, all of us shining with the light and glory of God. We were a sight to behold. The shepherds flung themselves on the ground as I told them to not be afraid and where they could find the baby. Then we filled the sky with song, glorifying God and talking about peace and goodwill. We were glorious.
As soon as we withdrew, the earth was dark, sombre, ordinary. But I saw the men scamper away towards the star and I knew our job had been done.
Christmas 2 – Wise men
Jesus, when you came, men came from afar to testify to your birth and to give you gifts.
Help us to also give testimony to your work in and amongst us,
and may we give back to you
and to others that which you gift us with. Amen.
I have studied my whole life. We track stars, research and read holy texts and Scriptures, histories, we examine the skies and note down changes. There are many signs that we read, signs of feast or famine, of changes in fortune of Kings. And it was one night where I saw it… in one of the most powerful star groups… an unfamiliar star, something I have never seen before. I race to our archives, to search for more ideas, for more clues. My colleagues invite me to join them for a meal but I decline, so I can search my records. I carefully record all the positions, and sure enough, it was something new, something different, and something very powerful.
I consulted with my colleagues the next day, they are doubtful at first but as they read my notes, as they take a fix on the stars and planets, and check my calculations and refer to the texts, they then get excited too at how big this is. We talk through the night, re-examining everything to make sure we are right. A King is coming. A great King. Possibly the greatest King ever and it will be in our lifetime. It will be now.
We must go. I am more than excited than ever now, there is an urgency in my heart, a desire to see this King. We must follow this star and find the King.
We set off straight away, and I careful pack my best clothes. We are often called on by King and Emperors, by the wealthy and powerful and they give us gifts in thanks. I have my best cloak with gold trim, it is a rich deep red, the colour of royalty. It is worthy clothing to visit a King.
It is a long journey, we carefully map our trip, keeping the constellation in focus, keeping track of the star. We stop at a busy market in one city, and buy some gifts, royal gifts, precious metals and spices, rare and expensive.
We are going to have to go through Judah. My colleague’s voice is weary and disappointed but our calculations are correct. We will have to go through King Herod.
Maybe he is having a son? Our other colleague looked around and we thought about it for a minute. It would make sense in a way, … yet King Herod is not a godly man, he is a cruel and manipulative leader. But we believe that this king will be different. We have read the holy texts and they herald and prophesy a great King, a King of peace and love. I cannot imagine any child of King Herod being that person. We decide to visit and consult but I keep my cloak in my travel bag. I don’t believe King Herod is the one.
King Herod confirms our thoughts, his own astrologers have seen the same thing we have. But they searched and found nothing. He admits it is not from his house but I think he is pleased that we have assumed it is. He sits back in his seat, satisfied and confident and gives us permission to see this King and if we find him, to let him know so he can also pay homage. From his demeanour we know that he does not think that he has anything to be concerned about.
And finally we are there, in a small town called Bethlehem, a few days from Jerusalem. The former town of the great Jewish King David. And there, in a house, a young child with his parents. Hastily I pull on my robe as we are invited to enter. In spite of our unexpectedness we get the sense that this is not the only surprise visit this couple have seen. We kneel, and offer our gifts, gold, frankincense, myrrh. And we stay there, watching this lovely child with big brown eyes and a delightful smile. He is sturdy. He will be strong. He looks like many children I have seen, like my own nephews. But this child is to be the King. We look around us, it is a normal house, a simple family. Peace settles on my heart as we talk quietly explaining what has lead us to this place. My journey has been completed, we have found our King.