A Christmas Tale

“Grandpa, what do the stars say tonight?” The young boy looked up into the sky. He shivered just a little as the breeze danced through his hair. He shrugged the thin coat higher up on his neck. The old man beside him looked up as well and smiled.
“Well, boy, you see that one in the western part of the sky, the one that is so much brighter than the others?”
“Yes, Grandpa, that one is Jupiter.” The boy was proud of himself for remembering. He and Grandpa have been coming out nightly so that the old man could teach him the language of the stars. Some of the names were hard to remember, but he knew Jupiter was the brightest one in the sky.
“Yes, but did you notice that it is especially bright tonight?” The boy looked again and the star did look much brighter than when they had seen it a few nights ago.
“Why is it so bright, Grandpa?” The more the boy looked at the star, the brighter it seemed, as if it wanted his notice.
“It is bright, because while clouds and storms have been hiding the stars, it joined with another one. My Grandpa told me long ago, that if it ever happened that I should take special note because something wonderful is going to happen.” The old man paused, his hands clasped behind his back.
“Like what?” the boy whispered. There was little in his short life that was wonderful, so just the thought made him breathless.
“Like a king being born.” The old man’s voice was low, nearly too quiet to hear.
“A king, really?” The boy bounced on his cold toes. A king was defiantly exciting, especially since Israel used to have kings before Rome came and killed them all.
“But not just any king, a special king.” The old man wiped his eyes before looking down at the boy beside him. “I have seen these two stars come together three times in the last year. Three times, something neither my grandfather nor his grandfather ever saw. Three is the number of Yahweh, the number of Divine Perfection. When we see it, we are to pay attention.”
“But, Grandpa, what does it mean?” The boy had gone from nervous excitement to quiet wonder.
“It means, my boy, the Messiah has come and while I am too old to know him, you must be on the watch for him in the coming years.”
“But how will I know him, Grandpa? What will he be like?”
The old man thought before he answered.
“Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer and the mute tongue shout for joy.” The man looked toward the west where the small town of Bethlehem nestled beneath the brightly blazing star. “Pay attention to the teachings of the prophets and listen to the whisperings of your own heart. Then you will know the Messiah when he comes.”
All through the long cold night, the old man and the young boy stood and gazed toward the star. Only when the sun rose and the bright light of the star gave way to the brighter light of morning, did the two turn back to their tent.
Many miles away, in a dim stable surrounded by animals, a tiny baby clung to his mother’s breast.

May the Stars watch over you and the child in the stable bless you. Merry Christmas

Advertisements

Blind leading the Blind, conclusion

“It is Jesus, he is coming!”

I began to shake. For a moment, I was back in the market surrounded by enemies. My body wracked with the pain of blows I couldn’t see coming. I had no defense, no shelter from the wrath of those who beat me with impunity. The terror of being at the mercy of an enemy I couldn’t escape filled me beyond bearing.

“Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!” The words escaped my throat in a rush. I could sense people on either side of me pull back, no doubt not wanting to be too close if my outburst brought punishment. Voices shouted from the direction of the street.

“Shut up, old man.”

“Leave the teacher alone.” Someone nudged me with a sandaled foot. I could not stop shouting.

“Son of David, have mercy on me!” Even as I cried out the words, panic rose within me. What if he ignores me? What if he refuses? I will be like this forever, always afraid, always alone. Wrapping my arms around myself, I began to rock trying to fight back the terror. The voices in the street began to mutter angrily. Beggars were not supposed to demand the attention of important people. Beggars were to meekly accept whatever was given whether blows or blessings.

“Call him.” The voice was calm and firm. My rocking slowed. The panic ebbed away.

“On your feet beggar, he is calling you.”

“Cheer up, he wants you to come to him.” The voices calling out were the same ones that had told me to be still. The words had changed, but the tone did not. They did not like me to bother the man they were following but I did not care. He had answered my call and I must to go to him. I struggled for a moment to untangle my legs from my cloak so that I could stand. Finally, I threw it off. The desperation to go to Jesus overpowered everything else. I staggered to my feet and lurched toward the street.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus spoke calmly. My heart raced.

“Rabbi, I want to see.” For a moment, nothing happened. No one moved. The only sound was that of people breathing and shifting. I flinched as a hand touched my bruised face but the touch didn’t hurt. It was soft and gentle as a breath of wind. Gentle fingers touched my closed eyes then moved away. A moment later the man spoke.

“Go, your faith has healed you.” I could hear the man step back. For a moment, I continued to kneel. Could it possibly be true? I opened my eyes. Brightness seared my brain. My eyes snapped shut once more. The familiar darkness was comforting for a moment, but the memory of that light drew me. I opened my eyes a tiny crack. The light was still bright, but no longer painful. I opened them a little more. The light shifted and moved. It changed from light to dark and back. A little more. The shifting light was shapes moving back and forth around me. I blinked and opened my eyes fully.Dazed, I staggered to my feet. This was sight. It
was more that I had ever dreamed. Colors, what were their names? It was a symphony of shape and color and texture. Tears streamed from my eyes. It was overwhelming.

Can you imagine what it would be like to see for the first time after being born blind. Just having to walk through a strange place without the benefit of my contacts or glasses is enough to send me into a near panic. Imagine seeing nothing but  blackness. Forever. Then Someone comes and offers you sight. The play of light and shadow on water or on a field of grass, the colors of a sunset or the simple perfection of a flower all available to you for the fist time. Even the hard things, the suffering face of a friend, the death of a loved one, the devastation of war. In all of those things, God shows his face, his love, his sorrow.

But do we see? There is none so blind as those who will not see. How many of us have the blessing of sight but refuse to open our eyes to the world around us. God calls us to be salt and light to the world. Our world is hurting so much right now. What are we doing to bring the light of God’s Word to others? How are we leading those we love and even those we don’t to the blessings God has planned for his people.

Open your eyes and see what God has for you today.

Blind leading the Blind, part 2

The safety of the gate was across the market. Usually, I had the steady presence of a guide to lead me. All I had to do was keep my hand on his shoulder and he would take me through. Today there was no guide; instead,
I would be the one leading the way. Cold sweat trickled down my face. My heart was already beating fast, now it thumped painfully in my chest.

The clamor of the market was disorienting. I could barely hear the buzzing echo but I continued to shuffle forward. No longer sheltered by the wall, people brushed against me on all sides. With every step, my heart pounded harder. My hands moved around hoping to encounter anything that my help me find the way across the market. All I could feel was the shifting wall of people. My fingers touched rough material and smooth skin. A strong hand grabbed my own and twisted.

“Watch it, old man.” The deep voice snarled above me. “Are you trying to steal from me? Trying to take my purse?” Another hand gripped my throat. Hard calluses scraped against my skin and I was lifted off my feet. I gasped for air, clawing at the hand that held me.

“Stop, he is not a thief, we are trying to get to the gate.” Hadar was still there. I wanted to tell him to run and hide lest they turn on him next. How was the boy to find a safe spot? Was anywhere safe?

“To the gate? A beggar then!”

“Come on, beggar, are you hungry? Here’s some fruit for you,” something wet splatted on my head, the juice running down into my ear. The smell of overripe melon washed over me. More rotting fruit and bits of spoiled meat rained down. I couldn’t stop the tears. Pain and humiliation radiated through me.

Later, sitting on the side of the road, I huddled inside my cloak. Hadar had begun our usual plea for alms. For the first time I could not join him. another shudder wracked my body. I could not remember the last time I had been so afraid. Many years ago, I made peace with the fact that God had made me blind. Whether I suffered from the sins of my father or cursed for some sin in my mother’s womb, it didn’t change the fact that I could not see. I had survived. I had learned to live with it and even find a measure of contentment in my life. Now I was afraid.

God why have you turned your back on me? What must I do to be forgiven? Excited whispers around me jolted me from my thoughts.

“What is happening?” I lifted my head from my hands.

“Jesus is coming! The great Healer is coming!”

Seeing dimly

Last night I went out to the kennel to bring the dogs in for the night. I looked up and saw a panorama of stars above me. You must understand, I have poor vision and even with glasses and contacts I can not get 20/20 vision. I have seen pictures of the stars that others see and I wonder if we are looking at the same sky. Last night the sky was so clear I could just glimpse a hint of the dimmer stars that I can seldom see. I walked to the kennel with my eyes fixed above me drinking in the sight.
I tried to do the same on the way back in, but leading 3 dogs, one of them still a puppy, on leashes in the dark is not conducive to stargazing. Later that night with my contacts removed and my glasses resting on the dresser, I looked at the blob of light that is the alarm clock beside me. I lay there and dreamed of the someday that I will arrive in heaven and my eyes will be whole. I will be able to see clearly for the first time in my memory. On that final day, we will all see clearly. Even those with perfect vision on earth can see only dim reflections of heaven.
Like Paul when he writes in 1 Corinthians 13:12; ‘Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.’ (Remember that in those times, a mirror was merely a polished piece of metal, usually bronze and generally rather small.) Last night I caught a glimpse of the majesty of the night sky. Someday I will see it in all its glory, but it will pale beside the wonder of the God who created the heavens and the earth.