Herb’s Blog, Herbdate 22970 – 1047
Here’s the haps:
You think about Jesus as you hold him. You often forget about his origin and just enjoy holding him and talking to him and seeing his little smile, which by now is absolutely not gas; listening to the sounds he makes, and looking into his manly little face. It is the face of a boy and no mistaking, but that is good. You’ve always wanted a boy and it is good that he is not too pretty. He’s strong, too. He has begun to pull himself up on things and stand. He still gets around quickest by crawling, but he will walk soon. He has also picked up a habit which thrills you to no end, he has started calling you “abba.” Every time he says it you smile. Not only does he charm you with it, but you also find humor in it as well.
Your reverie is interrupted by a knock on the door. You hear the snuffing and snorting of animals that do not immediately sound familiar and from the window you see that there are many camels and armed men. Has Herod sent troops for the child? But there are no camels in Jerusalem that you know of and the Romans use horses. There is another, louder, knock and the only thing you can do is open the door. You are shocked to see three of the most finely dressed men you have ever seen in your life. They are wearing sumptuous, kingly, garments such as you have never seen and not even Herod himself wears. They must have traveled far because these large groups, called caravans, are their means of protecting themselves from the bands of brigands and cutthroats who would prey on lone desert travelers. You have heard of such caravans but never thought to see one.
You recover yourself from your awe and greet them and invite them in.
“Where is he that is born King of the Jews for we have seen his star in the east and have come to worship him?”
Before you can answer Mary walks in with the child. She is calm and poised as she enters holding little Jesus’ hands with her fingers, walking him along. The men prostrate themselves on the floor before Jesus and begin to worship him. Mary gasps, but Jesus is a baby that smiles and coos a lot and brings joy to anyone who watches his antics. He looks at the men and smiles at them, laughing his good-natured little laugh, crawling toward them. He reaches his arms out to the middle one, who picks the smiling, laughing child up. This makes Jesus hug the man around the neck and reach for the next one, then the next, then indicate he wants down and crawls back over to his mother. All of this evokes the strangest reaction among these stately princes of men. They begin weeping and laughing and pounding each other on the back and jumping up and down wildly and cheering. The one does a wild, carefree dance of joy with such reckless abandon that you worry he may injure himself in the small room, but not for long. Their joy is contagious and reminds you of the night the shepherds came and you begin to laugh and clap your hands with joy as well. The dancing and recalling the shepherds remind you of King David, who danced with all his might before the Lord.
As things settle down a bit, you and Mary watch in amazement as the princes command their men to bring in gifts. They explain that these are the finest goods each of their kingdoms produces, Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. They lay them down in front of Jesus, who has gotten back down on the floor and it doesn’t take long for the boy to figure out how to open the chests. You and Mary hover over him, worried because lately he has been putting everything in his mouth, but there is no need. He smells and feels the gifts and inspects the chests, banging the lids up and down, playing with the latches and as Mary washes his hands, he starts to laugh again and the process of going to each of the kings is replayed to the delight of all.
Your mind assigns the word “king” to the men but as you talk with them you realize that their offices are more like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Prophets, soothsayers, dreamers of dreams, and knowers of visions. You tell, not only your story including having seen an odd star but not really thinking about it as you had more pressing matters at the time. You tell them of the shepherds and all the rest. They tell you of the star’s many peculiar properties and how the word star is really not the best word but that they are at a loss in how to describe it other than that. Whatever it was led them to this house directly after they left Herod. Their servants report that the star has disappeared now while you visibly cringe at the mention of Herod.
They tell you of how they expected to find a newborn king in the palace but were puzzled by the lack of knowledge on Herod’s part and the fact that he seemed oblivious to the birth of a king. In fact, they had thought it very peculiar that he had to consult his wise men on the matter. His behavior towards them had been courteous, almost solicitous, as he gave them directions to Bethlehem, requesting they bring him word again of where the babe was, stating he wished to do homage as well. They wondered how it could be that such an event as the birth of a king could not be known.
Your heart grows heavy within you and you become distracted. You worry about Herod. Nothing good could possibly come of his interest. What should you do? You feel yourself growing pale and weak, your heart seems to skip a beat and it feels as if the whole world had settled onto your chest as well as your shoulders so you grab a chair and sit down heavily. Mary rushes to you in great concern and the men seem alarmed at your symptoms. Mary, your dear Mary, rushes some cool water to you and the men are making you lie down and loosening your clothes to help you breathe easier. Suddenly the baby crawls over to you and starts pulling on your beard as though he wants some attention, but you are too weak at first. He sits on your chest, trying to play the donkey-riding game and it sounds like he is saying, “Abba, abba” over and over again. You look at the little man calling you daddy. He grabs the thickness of your beard and pulls and says it again and as you look in his little baby eyes you begin to chuckle. His eyes always look so deep for such a little one and they always make you smile when he looks at you. You laugh softly as though you and the baby were sharing some grand joke and you start to feel the pressure lifting. The water is refreshing and Mary and your visitors look relieved as you pry Jesus’ fingers from your beard and tell him, “no, no.” He plops down into your lap as soon as you sit down and says one final, “Abba.”
As things get back to normal you tell the men about Herod, who has killed two of his sons and the wife he had doted on for years and her grandfather and no one knows who else, but certainly anyone that he saw as a threat to the throne. They are obviously affected and decide to sleep in the field this night rather than rush back to Herod as they had planned. In the middle of the night, you are awakened by the many sounds of camp being broken. The whole house stirs and the baby wakes and starts to cry. As you open the door to see what’s going on you find the princes coming up the path to the door, this time dressed in traveling clothes. They have been warned by God in their dreams not to return to Herod, but to leave immediately. They thank you profusely for the opportunity of the ages and Mary passes the baby around to each a last time before they leave.
The following night, after Mary has tucked the baby in and is sleeping quietly, you lie on the bed, wondering what to do. You have prayed, but it worries you that you have no plan of action. As you lie there, half-awake, half-asleep; tossing and turning, an angel appears to you again. This time, along with the power you felt before, you feel an urgency coming from him like you have never known in your life. This is urgent as nothing has ever been urgent before. “Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.”