by Jay O'Toole
This is chapter #19 of The Quest for Home, my NaNoWriMo novel for November 2017.
Jesus left a stable Home,
Joyful in The Sky.
Home on Earth to stable come,
Blessings from His cry.
D'Oso Reimi (aka Jesus) Enters History
"Ms. Gerry, last night you shared your Christmas Eve traditions with me. May I share our Christmas Day traditions with you?"
"Why certainly, Quest. I would be honored to hear about how your family celebrates Christmas."
Quest looked around, puzzled. "I can't find it."
"What do you need, Young Sir?"
"In order to share our traditions with you, I need a Bible to read."
"Oh, I'm sorry. My parents owned a big Bible when I was a little girl. They kept it on the coffee table. It was my job to dust it. But I haven't owned one myself since I grew up and left home."
"Then, this may be harder than I thought, but I'll try anyway. You see, we usually read the historical account of Jesus' birth from Luke, chapter #2, but since we don't have a Bible available, then I guess I'll have to tell it in my own words."
"That's okay by me," Mrs. Giraffe assured him. "I'm not sure I would know the difference, anyway."
"Let's see...Caesar Augustus was the big king on the throne in Rome, at the same time that some dude, named, 'Quirinius' was the governor of Syria. The Caesar made a law just out of the blue. He said, basically, 'Everybody, you got to go back to your original family hometown, and register for a new tax because I want to charge you all a whole lot of money. Well, that made it a little tough for Joseph, the Earthly father of Jesus, who had become so by default, since he was the legal husband of Mary, the chosen virgin, who had become the Mother of Jesus by Divine Fiat."
"Sounds like Joseph and Mary had their lives dictated to them by powers much stronger than their own. The Earthly King, who called himself 'God' wanted all their money. The real God wanted everything else. Talk about 'between a rock and a hard place.'"
"I know, right? Anyway, Joseph found out that his fianceé was pregnant, and he knew the child was NOT his, because he was a religious Jew and would never violate the Seventh Commandment. Not knowing what to do, but wanting to back out of his responsibilities with Mary in the most gracious way possible, he decided to keep everything "Hush-Hush." He didn't want to put her to excessive shame. So, he decided he would give her a bill of divorcement, privately, and he would then do his best to make himself scarce before any of the town's people had time to question him about this."
"Was he successful?" Ms. Gerry asked with concern.
"Almost. The night before Joseph had intended to divorce his dearest love, (which was something that would cause him the deepest pain,) an angel showed himself to Joseph in a dream and said something like, 'Joseph, Buddy, no worries. We know what you are planning to do, but there absolutely no need. Here is something you don't know. Mary has not been unfaithful to you. She has not been with any other human male the same way we both know she has not been with you. Everything is on the 'up and up' for you to marry your dearest love. 'Why?' you ask. It's really very simple to explain while being very hard to understand. The Holy Spirit of God has fashioned a body for this second Adam the way Jesus fashioned the first Adam. It is a miracle. It is beyond the laws of physical Nature. The Holy Spirit has taken the chosen egg from Mary in order that Jesus would be 100% human, but without sin. He took the Seed of God, the Father, Who is Jesus Christ, the Righteous, placing Him in the limited size of intentionally-restricted Divinity, Who is eternally sinless and 100% God, into this seed of the virgin maiden, creating an entirely new Person, Who is eternally and concurrently 100% human and 100% God."
"My Goodness. No wonder Joseph was shocked. (I'm shocked at the level of words you are able to use, Quest Bear. Are you sure you're only ten years old?) I'm just barely keeping up with the concepts myself," Mrs. Giraffe admitted. "You mean to tell me that Mary had not had relations with any human male, but because God intervened in the lives of these two humans, Mary had been made pregnant by miraculous means?"
"Yes, Ma'am. That's what I'm saying. (And by the way I am ten years old. Why do you ask?)"
"Never mind. What did they do?" Mrs. Giraffe asked him. "It seems like they couldn't really win in the court of human opinion no matter what they did."
"That's right. Sometimes God requires obedience without giving a clear reason why obedience is the right thing to do. God teaches trust in ways that do not make sense to any Earth-dwellers."
"And you mean that this is The One, Who is causing me to have The Big Choice?"
"Yes, Ma'am, He is. Maybe, I should continue with the historical account."
"By way of recap, the angel in Joseph's dream told him that a miracle in the life of his new wife, Mary, was about to turn their lives upside down. 'However, everything is going to work out for the best in the end. You have to trust me on this one! Your wife is still a pure virgin. Mary has been chosen as the mother to God's Son, but you are chosen to be His adopted Dad on Earth. Call His Name, 'Jesus' (or Savior) because He will save His people from their sins.' When Joseph woke up he was obedient to the commands. He did what he was required to do. And he took Mary as his wife, even though I am sure he expected to live out the rest of his Earthly days under the Shame Cloud of Suspicion of Sexual Sin."
"WOW. That was harsh."
"You know it. Apparently, Joseph had the kind of godly, selfless love that cared more about Mary and her needs and God and His needs than he did for his own needs, which included the Respect of other men. That was HUGE for a human male."
"Ummm, how does this relate to the Christmas Story?" Mrs. Giraffe asked. "I don't recognize anything, yet, except the ordered census and the taxation."
"Oh, sorry. I forgot to tell you that our tradition includes going back to the last half of Matthew, chapter #1, to pick up that bit of background information before we can move forward with understanding in Luke, chapter #2."
"Please, tie up the loose threads for me. I am anxious to know more," she smiled.
"Yes, Ma'am, I would be glad to do so." Quest said, and then continued with Luke 2.
"We pick up the historical account with Joseph visiting Mary to tell her about his angelic night visitor. She probably told him about her angelic day visitor. 'Maybe, he was the same angel,' Mary could have suggested. Joseph, no doubt, reaffirmed his love for Mary, his concerns over the difficulty of their situation, his confession of his intended divorce, his commitment to stay with her no matter what and his intention to name her baby, 'Jesus.'"
"You know. It seems to me that Mary gets most of the press, during this holiday season, but I think her life would have been nearly impossible without Joseph's willingness to be her strong love, her dearest Earthly helper and the best human supporter a young woman in her condition could ever have had," Mrs. Giraffe processed, out-loud.
"I agree with you, Ms. Gerry," Quest said. "Joseph is not much more than a piece of furniture in The Nativity Scenes, but his silent obedience shows what God can do through one man, who desires only to give God the Glory."
"Well said, Quest. There's more, isn't there?"
"Indeed, Ma'am, and here it comes." Quest smiled. "Joseph left his then-hometown of Nazareth for his family's hometown of Bethlehem with Mary walking, heavily, right by his side. They probably didn't have the luxury of a donkey for Mary to ride upon because they were VERY poor people. The hundred mile hike was probably not too difficult for Joseph himself, but Mary was very pregnant and very near to being delivered from her pregnancy. That meant that the trip was very slow, very hard and no doubt, as heavy a mental burden for Joseph as it was a physical burden for Mary. They had to travel with other families for protection from bandits, but her pace was probably so slow that one set of families moved on, while other families were coming up from behind. The young couple was probably in constant prayer, 'O, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, please send people to travel with us every step of the way.'"
"I never really considered how hard the trip could have been for them." Mrs. Giraffe said with a tear in her eye.
"Few people do, but Praise D'Oso, they made it to Bethlehem, looking for the nearest inn for the night, but there was no room reservation to get dumped into the SPAM folder because this was way before the internet. Sadly, every innkeeper hung his head, saying, 'I'm sorry, but there is no room at the inn.' 'Joseph, the baby is coming!' Mary assured fiancé with an urgent voice. His eyebrows raised to the point of a headache and his eyes opened to the size of saucers. He went back to the last inn and banged on the door, 'Sir, I am very desperate here! My wife is about to be delivered of her baby! We just need a roof over our heads! Do you mind, if we stay in your animal shed, along with the beasts of burden? Just a few feet of floor space is all we need, and I have little time for consideration! PLEASE! PLEASE! PLEASE!'"
"He was born in a barn? I'll bet that made for a great line when he was a teenager. 'Clean your room! Were you born in a barn? No. Wait," she smiled a wry little smile.
"Good one, Ms. Gerry. If The Lord Jesus does stand-up in Eternity, then I'll just bet that has been part of His routine for millennia. I have no doubt that He loves to laugh."
"I'll bet He does, too."
"Anyway, Joseph got Mary settled in just in time to assist in the birth of Israel's Messiah, Jesus, The Sovereign of all Existence. However, miraculous conception leads to miraculous birth. It was probably the smoothest and least painful childbirth in all of history, but I don't really know. That is just the thoughts and hopes of one little bear."
"You have good thoughts, Quest. I'm proud of you."
"Thank you, Ms. Gerry," he smiled. "While the birth was going on in the barn, a group of angels visited some sleepy shepherds, who were 'washing their socks by night,'...er...I mean, 'watching their flocks by night.' Sorry 'bout that. Dad's punny jokes always seem to slip in, when I tell the story."
"Cute. Please continue."
"You can imagine that when the angels showed up en masse, the shepherds saw an army floating in the sky, and they were scared out of their wits. However, the angels told them, 'You don't have any reason for fear, especially not tonight, because we have got Great News for you. Today, in Bethlehem there is a Savior, Who has been born. He is Christ, Israel's Messiah, the Messiah of the World and the everlasting Lord of Glory. You will find Him wrapped up tightly in a baby's swaddle, lying in the animals' feeding trough.' Between the two of us, Ms. Gerry, I think those strips of cloth they used to bind Jesus to be laid in the borrowed manger were the same type of strips of cloth the humans would use years later, when they needed, once again, to bind Him to be laid in the borrowed tomb, until His resurrection."
"That is quite an astute observation for a little cub, but I will just guess that it has something to do with your Big Choice as well as the words used by Casa when he relates this historical account."
"May I tell you another thought I have had about the similarities between Jesus' birth and His death?"
"Certainly. What is it?"
"Have you seen pictures of the construction of the manger type of feeding troughs from the first century?"
"I think so. Where are you going with this?"
"Those mangers had two sets of cross beams on each end with the possibility of another one in the middle, depending on how long the manger was made to be. I've thought that when He was born, Jesus was hanging aloft between Heaven and Earth in the presence of three crosses with His Body, being stretched out over the middle cross. (I know He wouldn't have been very high off the ground in the manger, but still...) When Jesus was crucified, He was hanging aloft between Heaven and Earth in the presence of three crosses with His Body, being stretched out over the middle cross."
"Quest, that is, again, a very astute observation for a little cub. Are you sure you're only a child?"
"Yes, Ma'am. I am."
"Do you have any other interesting comparisons for me, today?"
"I sure do. Have you seen the modern Manger Scene (or Nativity Scene as it is often called?)"
"I often wonder how long it took to build those simply constructed wooden lean-to barns."
"Well, that's just it. I don't think their shelter was a lean-to barn that night."
"Why do you say that?"
"Many of the shepherds of that Day would have had traveling flocks in search of the most abundantly-covered grassy plains that they could find in any given part of the countryside on any given day. It would have been impractical to build even the simply constructed lean-to shelter-type barns. However, all the shepherds in that region of the world would have known where to find outcroppings and caves of various sizes. I'm sure they each used these natural 'barns' from time to time. (In many ways this was like the time-share concept.) They would have provided shelter from the elements, and the shepherds could easily protect their flocks by dozing and 'catching 40 winks' while lying down or sitting on the threshold of the cave's doorway. The sheep couldn't get out without crossing his body, and the wolves couldn't get in without having to deal with him. Years later during His ministry, Jesus called Himself, 'the Door of the sheep' in John, chapter #10, saying, 'Through Me, anyone can come in and out and find pasture.'"
"Quest, this is an interesting piece of trivia, but I don't see the comparison."
"How about this? The shepherd couldn't protect a lean-to shed with the same effectiveness that he protected a cave type of barn or shelter. That meant that if Jesus was laid to rest in a cave, when He was born...that made a strong picture and comparison to the Sabbath after His crucifixion when he was laid to rest in a cave that acted as his borrowed tomb."
"That is fascinating, Quest. How does your family end the telling of the historical account of Jesus' birth and transition into the giving of Christmas presents to each other?"
"There are some words right around verse #20 of Luke 2 that say, 'Mary kept all of these things and pondered them in her heart.' She had a lot of things to think about that were beyond the normal, every day human happenings that surrounded her Special Delivery. She would be considering these things for years as her young son grew into manhood. My Dad always says, 'We would do well to consider these things for the rest of our lives on Earth. Now, since it is time for presents, let's pray and give our first present to Jesus Himself.' We would always pray and thank Jesus for His Gift of coming to Earth to be our Savior. Dad would close his pray with these words, 'Jesus today as we begin to give gifts to each other, we want to give you our hearts, first. May they belong to You, Now and Forever.' Then, we would give our presents to each other, being thankful and hugging the giver for every one of our gifts."
"What a precious home."
A New Heart
When Quest finished praying, he started to cry big bear tears filled with joy and sadness. For the first few minutes, Mrs. Giraffe just held the little cub, giving him space to feel in full his great emotion. When his body stopped shaking and crying so much, she asked, "Are you alright, Quest? Something must have touched a chord in your heart of hearts."
"Yes, Ma'am. It did," he agreed slowly. "I started to think about my Mom, and now, even my Dad is gone on Christmas Day. I miss them so much. I'm torn. I am very glad that Ms. Ethelene is now my Mom, but my birth Mom will always be missed on Christmas Day, I think, too. Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I want to tell the world, especially my dearest family members and friends just what I feel about Christmas, but no matter what words I try to use, they never seem to tell the full meaning that is in my heart. When I try to talk about Christmas, attempting to describe its indescribable effects on my heart, I usually talk about the wonderful choir music, the beautiful twinkling sets of lights, both the multicolored ones and the strictly white lights, the Christmas trees (inside and outside of the homes) and the happy joyful faces of the children and adults, who are really children inside. All of these things have the overarching theme of Jesus, His Birth, and His purposed Rescue Mission to the human race."
"You are doing quite well, right now, Quest," Mrs. Giraffe assured him. "I don't see the problem. I am starting to feel the emotions of your heart. I'm warm all over."
"You are? I'm really glad about that, but there is something more."
"Whatever could it be, Young Sir?"
"The painter is just as moved by a sunset or a landscape or the seashore, but he or she can't tell you in words all that these scenes mean to their hearts. They must show you the meaning in the colors of the painting, the strokes of the texture and the movements of the arms as the painter paints. The pianist or the violinist cannot tell you in words how the music grips his or her heart to the point that they weep when they play and weep when they complete their playing. The emotions of the musician come from the heart. The expression of the music is not seen in perfection, but in the subtle imperfections and intentional changes that imperceptibly create an entirely unique and new piece of music at the point of contact between the body of the musician and the instrument itself."
"Beauty is an emotion, Quest. I get that."
"At times the beauty so overwhelms me, that there seems to be an incomplete release of emotion, even in the great expression of tears and a shaking body. The best I can do at this moment is to say that, when I meditate (or think deeply) on Christmas, I see D'Oso Reimi's Face in His animal form and I see Jesus' Face as He expresses as a human. Both images give me great comfort and warmth and peace. I just want to rest in His Arms and to be protected from the world. Does that makes any sense, Ms. Gerry?"
"Quest,...(I love you so much!)...That makes perfect sense," she smiled. "I don't really know Him, but I think He's probably pretty pleased with you, too."
"Oh, forgive my manners, Ms. Gerry," he said. "I am very sure that He wants you to know Him. Would you like to give your heart to Him, right now? It's The Big Choice that I keep mentioning."
"I might if you could help me to understand the options a little better," she said. "One chooses when one understands something of the Costs & Benefits of each option."
"That's right. Let me make it as simple as I can. First, do you remember Adam and Eve?"
"Yes, I do. My parents told me that historical account many times when I was a child."
"God gave them one rule, right?"
"Right. 'Don't eat the fruit of the tree in the middle of the Garden of Eden.'"
"What did they do?"
"They ate the forbidden fruit."
"They broke their friendship with God. Apparently, they broke trust and in the process, they broke all of The Creation."
"It was called, 'Sin.' Sin means to miss the mark (or target,) like in archery. In other words, broken perfection is no longer perfect."
"That makes sense."
"What is today?"
"Today is Christmas Day."
"Jesus came to Earth to repair the perfection that the humans broke. Jesus was born as a baby, lived a sinless life and started the ministry of an excellent Jewish rabbi, until what happened?"
"He was condemned as a blasphemer, someone who is not true to the tenets of a religion."
"That was what He let people think in order to get Himself placed on the cross to pay for our sin of breaking perfection, signified in the loving bond between God and Man. He stayed in the tomb, completely dead throughout the weekly Sabbath to prove that He had, indeed, died. Then, He returned to the Chifforobe of the Tomb. Changed His body into an entirely new kind of life in the act of standing up alive, again. He walked out of the tomb before the stone was rolled away. He showed Himself alive to His dearest disciples and friends for 40 days. (Once He appeared to more than 500 people at the same time.) Then, He ascended back to Heaven, and from there He returned in the form of The Holy Spirit as a tongue of fire on the Day of Pentecost to each of his praying believers in this upper room."
"Where is my Big Choice in all of this?"
"Do you believe that Jesus created the human, Adam, without any sin?"
"Do you believe that Adam sinned by eating the forbidden fruit?"
"Do you believe that Jesus was born of the Virgin, Mary, in Bethlehem?"
"Do you believe that Jesus lived a sinless life, that He died on a cross to pay for our sins, that He was in the tomb, until the third day, and that He walked out of the tomb of His own accord by raising His once-dead body to a new kind of life?"
"Do you believe that Jesus can give you new life, too, by virtue of His payment and Gift of Salvation?"
"Then, tell Him so."
"Jesus, I believe you died for my sin, and that You rose, again, to give me a new kind of life. Please, do that for me, now. Thank You. Amen."
"Welcome to The Family, Ms. Gerry. You just received the Best Christmas Present."
They both smiled.