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 congregation 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.
THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT
My Dearest Sarah:
I miss you more than I can say. We knew this journey would be long, but it has not been a fool’s errand. The star that we are following grows brighter as we get closer. I don’t believe we are closer to the star, I think the star simply grows brighter in the sky. We have all been asking, closer to what or to where? We are not sure. Gaspar says we are heading in the direction of Bethlehem, but I think we will be passing through. Why would God in heaven choose a little town like Bethlehem to bring us the Messiah?
Then again, why would God send us?
Thank you for packing the mint leaves. They have been a great help with our camels’ digestion. Gaspar and I are thinking of giving some to Balthazar. He snores worse than the camels and regarding his other problem…well, let’s just say that we make him ride in the back of the line.
I know you are lonely. So am I. I know you wonder if this is a fool’s journey; and sometimes, quite honestly, so do I.
Balthazar and I have been watching the stars for years…this event…this alignment…never has happened. There were always patterns. There were always things you could count on…the stars being in their places was one of them. When this new light appeared, we knew it was a sign. We knew it was God’s sign.
Look around you, Sarah. The world is coming apart. The government is out of control. Where there were once three or four prophets in the market screaming, now there are dozens. We knew something was going to happen; and when this new star appeared, it could be only one thing: The Messiah is coming.
Balthazar has brought gold, lots of gold. He can afford it. He isn’t bragging this time, though. He hasn’t even mentioned how much he has with him. He doesn’t count his coins in front of us like he has in the past. He is not the same. Gaspar has brought Myrrh. We told him it was not appropriate. We told him to bring some fine linen for this King’s robe, but he wouldn’t hear of it. Who brings a burial resin to a baby?
But, he knows the prophesies. He knows the Torah and the Talmud. According to him, this new King will be King of kings and will die. He will love us, and He will be broken. He will save us, and He will be condemned. Gaspar says the mother of this child will understand, but how could she? How could any woman know this? What kind of girl are we going to see?
I am too old for this. I am feeling much older these days away from you. I look at the light in the sky, and I hope you are looking at the same star. For a moment, it makes me feel like we are not a year’s journey apart but only a few inches away.
What will I do when we have given the baby our gifts? What is our purpose then? Will this Messiah even know we were there? Will His mother tell Him stories about the stargazers from the east who showed up at His front door? Will He smell the incense and ask His father where it came from?
I consider myself honored. I won’t live to see this baby become a man. I won’t live to see Him lead His people out of their slavery. But, Sarah, I promise you that as we get closer to where the star shines…I feel hope. I haven’t felt hope for these people in a long time. I was content to sit with you and grow old and let the world go by; but Sarah, I feel hope. After this journey, nothing will be the same for any of us again.
I will be home soon.
Your loving Melchior
The third candle is lighted during the Scripture reading.
Isaiah 9:1-7 (NIV)
1 Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan–
2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.
3 You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder.
4 For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.
5 Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
God, don’t let us get tired now. We have come so far. Give us strength and patience. Let us feel Your reassuring hand on our shoulders. Help us prepare our minds and hearts and souls for the gift that is almost here. Amen.