DISCLAIMER: Yes, we know there was no such thing as e-mail back then. It's unlikely that Mary called Elizabeth "Girl," and who even knows the name of Herod's guard? Certain aspects of this wonderful and beautiful story have been "tweaked" for dramatic purposes. Our goal is to look deeper into the story, to wonder what these people may have been thinking. We want to help your youth group see the birth of the Christ child as if it were happening for the first time. We'd like you and them to experience the joy and awe as they did so long ago on the first Christmas. SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT
To: Commander Cornelius Baruri, 3rd Regimental Squad, Rome
From: Office of King Herod, Confidential
I have need of your skills.
It has come to my attention that we are under attack -- that the very freedoms we fight for are being threatened, not from an army outside the city walls but from within.
A short time ago, a group of astrologers from the east showed up at my gate. Old men. Learned. They seemed to think a new king is to be born -- not of my line, but from elsewhere, beyond Jerusalem and beyond the protection of Rome.
These men believe some sort of ancient prophesy is being fulfilled: that a baby is going to be born who will be greater than all other leaders. Caesar Augustus has called me personally to Rome to tell me of his concerns. He, too, had heard of these prophesies. The street-corner preachers in the markets are growing in number, and all of them are saying our time is coming to an end. We were having these so-called prophets jailed and still they shouted from their cells. So we had them killed, and then something happened. The people started to listen. The more we tried to silence the shouters in the markets the more people wanted to hear what they had to say. I sense a growing resentment. We cannot have this.
I am assigning you and a few of your most trusted soldiers to a mission of the utmost secrecy. We cannot have this sort of insurrection. If the people believe the next king is to be born near us then they will do what they can to hide him from us.
Caesar has declared this to be a time for a census. He is always counting. Always organizing. Always trying to make the people stand up and move for him. He is like a child playing with blocks. However, I am thinking that we may be able to use this census to our advantage.
One of the old leaders of the Jews has been preaching that their scrolls show clearly that their future leader will be born very soon and very close to us. I sent for him. Had him show me in these writings where his ideas come from. Then I had him killed.