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kept in His hands
1,334 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I found this story on a preacher's blog. It's his "dramatization" of the story of Jesus' birth based on biblical accounts and his own research of biblical culture at the time Jesus was born. It's his attempt at filling in the blanks, so to speak, of what scripture left out. I found it very interesting and thought you all might too. It's in eight parts. I intend on posting a new part everyday with the final part being posted on Christmas Eve.

Part One begins below.

kept in His hands
1,334 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
There is no way to hear or tell the story of the birth of Jesus without adding details to the bare facts that we know. You must engage your imagination to receive these glad tidings.

What I've added to the story is, I hope, culturally appropriate. I suppose we could say that it MIGHT have happened this way...RLP

The Christmas Story
by Real Live Preacher

Part One
The Census

Joseph's carpenter shed smelled of leather and wood and grease and earth and work. The tools were old and the wooden handles slick with use. The place bore the wonderful patina of a man's lifework.

The smell made Isaac smile when he poked his head around the doorframe and saw Joseph's powerful shoulders rolling back and forth as he pulled a drawknife across a huge beam of wood. Chips were flying everywhere.

"Shalom, Joseph. Is that…" He sniffed loudly. "Cedar?"

Joseph turned and smiled, slapping his palm on the side of the beam. "Yes. Contract with the governor. Man dropped it off just the other day. VERY nice wood. From Lebanon!"

"You don't say? Yes, very nice." Isaac ran his hand over the wood with some appreciation for it.

Joseph went back to working, and Isaac looked around the shed in sadness. They used to gather here, all the men. Simeon and Jacob, Josiah and his cousin from Jericho, Jonathan Ben-Judah and the others. Even the rabbi would come by sometimes. This used to be the place where they came to get away from the women and children. This was where they talked together, like men. But that was before the whole "Mary thing."

Joseph strained with the drawknife, ripping it through a knot as he spoke. "So, Isaac, what's the news? I'm going to keep working, if you don't mind. I've got a deadline."

"Maybe," said Isaac, "but you'll probably stop when you hear what I've got to say." He paused, but Joseph said nothing.

"A government census has been ordered."

"And what's the news in that? Another census, another way for the tax collectors to pick our pockets."

"No, Joseph. Listen. This is an IMPERIAL census. Apparently the order comes all the way from Rome. Maybe even from the emperor himself - ptuh." Isaac turned his head and spat. "But the worst news is that every man is required to go to his home town to register. His HOME TOWN, Joseph, and no exceptions. It's all going to happen midsummer."

Joseph's back straightened, and he whirled around to face Isaac. "Midsummer? But that's when..."

"Yes, my friend. That's when Mary is due."

"You know?"

"Of course I know. I have fingers and can count the months. Everyone knows. The whole town is talking."

Joseph picked up a chisel. With a flick of his wrist he sunk the sharp corner into the wood and then popped it out. "Yes, I suppose everyone IS talking. And I guess that's why none of my friends drop by anymore, right?"

Isaac looked uncomfortable. Joseph stared at him for a moment, then looked down at the wood, picking at it with his thumbnail. "It looks like you have something on your mind, old friend. Go ahead and speak if you have something to say."

"All right, I will. Joseph, you know that I love you like a brother. We've been friends since you came to Nazareth, however long ago. But why are you getting mixed up with that girl? We both know the child isn't yours. She has betrayed you, and no one even knows who the father is. You're an honest man and well respected. You could have any girl in town. Why do you care so much about…HER and that worthless bast…"

"STOP!" shouted Joseph, interrupting Isaac mid-word. "Isaac, for the sake of our friendship, I will forget what you just said. But remember this - I WILL marry her, and the child she bears is mine. That's all you need to know. My son will not grow up thinking that…"

"Son?" said Isaac. "What makes you think it will be a boy?"

Joseph walked to the door and looked around to be sure that no one was outside listening. Then he ducked back inside and squatted on the floor, motioning Isaac to join him. Isaac, looking like he was in on a grand conspiracy, lowered himself beside Joseph.

"Isaac, there are things you don't know about Mary. Things no one knows. I don't ask that you understand or even agree with me. Just know that I intend to make the boy my own. I had dream, or maybe a vision, I don't know. But in this dream…"

Joseph paused, uncertain of how much to tell his friend. He didn't want people to think he was crazy. He hovered on the edge for a moment, wanting so badly to tell Isaac everything, but then the mood passed, and he decided to keep the details to himself.

"Well, just understand that because of this dream, or whatever it was, I think it will be a boy, and I'm going to raise him as my own."

As he said "raise him as my own," Joseph imagined a little boy playing at his feet. He smiled, but then he had a quick vision of people whispering, calling him "that *******." He stood up, trembling, and felt his anger rise, exploding out of his mouth.

"And that's it, Isaac. That's final. That's the way it's going to be, and I don't care what anyone else thinks or says, you hear?"

Isaac stood also, and looked angry for brief moment, then a smile broke over his face. Joseph thought the smile came a little too soon to be genuine.

"Hey, Joseph, it's YOUR life. I'm just your friend. Do what you think is right, but…uh, no one trusts that Mary girl. I'm sorry, but that's the truth. Everyone likes YOU - you know - uh, do whatever you need to do, I guess."

Isaac walked to the door as if he was going to leave, but he paused in the doorway. He put a hand on each side of the doorframe and leaned forward. Then he turned around and had a final say.

"It's going to be hard on Mary when you're in Bethlehem for the census, that's all I'm saying. People in a small town can be cruel. Are cruel. I heard that her parents were going to send her away, like Hagar, until you agreed to marry her. With you gone, I don't know. It's something to think about, whether or not you want to get mixed up in a situation like that."

"Take care, Joseph," he said, and then he was gone.

Joseph stood for a moment, looking at the empty door. The sun was going down, so he lit a lamp and sat in the corner of his little shed. No one else came to see him.

He sat for a long time in the shadows, thinking about all these things.

(to be continued in Part Two - The Plan)
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