Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Birth by Gene Edwards
(An excerpt of a great book, by a great story teller, on the birth of Jesus through the eyes of the shepherds and the angels! You will want to read the entirety yourself and read it to children!) 
Michael first became aware that something momentous was about to take place when he felt a strange compulsion to visit the place of the Door. It was not an area of the heavenlies that angels often frequented. Why am I here? He mused to himself. Why am I standing at the passageway to the physical realm? It had been ages since the Door had opened into that realm. Not since Malachi the prophet had there been commerce between the two creations. Why, the archangel wondered, has it been so very long since the Most High God has spoken face to face with anyone living upon the earthen ball?
 At that moment Michael felt a deeper inner stirring. His eyes brightened. He was being called to the throne. But more, Michael knew, by some inexplicable intuition, that the passageway between heaven and earth would open again…and soon!...
….The stable was dimly lit by but one small, smoky lamp. A mat of straw had been laid down near the door so that Mary might have some small relief from the foul stench of the room. Joseph’s face was ashen, his entire body trembling. At this moment he could have put up a strong argument against the whole idea of reproduction.
 Azzan, Joseph’s lifelong (and never wed) friend, stood outside the stable, immobilized and terrified. Both men listened to the two midwives give Mary all kinds of instructions, none of which made any sense to either of them. But Joseph did hear one statement he fully understood.
  “I have been a midwife for fifty years, and I have delivered thousands of babies. I am telling you, this young girl-bearing this child-is a virgin.” The struggle between pain and birth continued for several hours as Mary’s labor pangs came in ever shorter cycles. Nine months earlier the Door in the heavenlies had opened into Mary’s womb; and there brought God into the visible creation. Now it was almost time for that same womb to open and become, thereby, the entrance through which God might come forth upon this very planet.
 At last, the Door opened, and like any other child ever born he was pushed forth in harsh agony, deep red blood, and from an envelope of protective, water. He who had formed the world now made entrance into that world; not in the presence of trumpets and cymbals nor in a king’s palace. His reception was not as one royal born, to be arrayed in find garments.  Rather, his vestments were bands of gauze, his bed and horse’s feeding trough. His lowly entrance was a dugout on the side of a hill, which some might go so far as to call a barn.
 The baby cried. The mother laughed and cried. The midwives smiled in wonder at a child so strangely born. And Joseph slipped to the dirt floor and wept.
 The infant’s birth, except for the modest surroundings, was really no different from that of all who have abandoned the womb and entered earth’s dull light. Except of  course, that a giant of an angel stood just outside the stable door, poised to do battle with anything created that might have menaced with incarnation of the God of all creation.
 But with the baby’s first cry, Michael knew it was time to bring the good news to his fellows in the other realm. He hurried to this task, for he sensed that Gabriel was about to lose control of exactly one half of the heavenly host.

 Gabriel was doing fairly well at controlling the 500 million angels in his charge. But the other 500 million, in Michael’s absence, were on the verge of chaos.
 The excitement was understandable. This was one of the few occasions in all their long history when all the angels of heaven were in one place. And not since the creation of man had such numbers of angels been invited to pass through the Door onto earth in a visible form. Nonetheless, Gabriel did not want to see a total breakdown of angelic order, and everything was pointing in just such a direction.
 To Gabriel’s relief, the Door opened slightly, and Michael, his eyes ablaze with joy, stepped into the heavenlies. He raised both hands above his head, his face enraptured, his voice filled with glee.
“The child is born!”
 Excitement gave way to pandemonium as every angel pressed toward the Door. Michael called for order, and though each and every angel was certain he had heartily obeyed, one would be hard pressed to actually call the scene orderly.
 Michael looked toward the Door in hope that it may have opened wider. It had not, but he did notice that it had moved. It seemed to have come to rest in a pasture somewhere. Michael’s only thought was, If the Door swings open in a pasture, it had better be a very large pasture, with room enough for one billion angels!
 He decided to investigate. Just as he stepped onto the threshold of the Door, he was certain he heard two men having a very intense argument…

 The place was a pasture just outside the village of Bethlehem. It was evening. The sky was clear and the stars bright. Several shepherds sat around a small fire that was dwarfed by a large boulder nearby. Two of the men, Rabof and Deruel, were, indeed, having a very animated discussion.
“Rabof, you are a stupid, illiterate shepherd. Of course angels have wings!”
“You are more stupid, and more illiterate, and an even more ignorant shepherd. Angels do not have wings!”
 With this, the two men began hurling passages of Scripture at one another. When this source of information ran dry, they began, as do all men, to invent Scripture. That in turn gave way to conjecturing, reasoning, and at last, flights of imagination that had little or nothing to do with the topic at hand.
 What these shepherds did not know was that a great and mysterious portal was about to open very near them-in fact, right beside the large boulder that casts a  shadow upon their tight circle. Nor could they have possibly known that at that very moment citizens of the other realm were jammed around the Door, anxious to charge through to make an announcement that was doubtless the greatest news ever to be proclaimed.

 Sure enough, the Door did open…ever so slightly. Because it would be his appointed task to cross the threshold first, Gabriel peeked through the small opening.
 Approximately one billion angels crammed behind Gabriel, trying to see whatever it was that met his eye. The archangel gestured for silence and for some much-needed angelic self-control.
“The Door is opening upon a pasture,” he observed. There was a moment’s pause. He then exclaimed, “I see the village of Bethlehem in the distance!”
 A moment of sheer bedlam followed as angels one and all cried out, “The city of David! The City of the King!”
Gabriel waved his hand for silence, then continued.
“There are shepherds just beyond the Door. Five of them. I cannot believe they are just sitting there! Do they not know they are but a short distance from the site of the greatest occurrence of all time and eternity? Why do they not go into the village and see what God has—“
Suddenly, the Door cracked open a little more. Spontaneously Gabriel and a few others standing near him darted through the opening, while nearly one billion of their angelic kin tried desperately to follow.
Rabof, oblivious to the angelic activity, continued his debate. “You tell me just one place in Scripture or anywhere else where angels—“He stopped abruptly. “What is that? I mean….who is that? I….I have never seen anything like you in my whole life!”
As if out of nowhere, a giant of a creature, with a soft light glowing through his white garment, came to stand before the five shepherds.
“Why are you sitting here?” challenged Gabriel.
Not a shepherd moved.
“Why are you sitting here?” the angel repeated, “Get up! Run! Go into Bethlehem and see the wondrous thing God has done!”
Stark terror froze the shepherds in their places, but the angel went on.
This the most joyful news ever announced, and it is for everyone! The Savior---yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born tonight in Bethlehem! How will you recognize him? You will find a baby wrapped in a blanket, lying in a manger.
It was obvious to the five men that this huge creature was about to continue when the most phenomenal thing happened. Another of his kind appeared beside him. Then another. And another. And yet another.
 Meanwhile, in the other realm, angelic order was once more about to disintegrate. It was every angel for himself. The entire angelic host, one billion strong, was pushing its way through the Door, which, mercifully, had finally opened wide.
 The first angels through the Door encircled the shepherds. Those following thereafter filled the immediate surroundings, always careful not to step on any of the sheep. A few of the angels ascended the towering boulder.
 Still the citizens of the heavenlies poured through the Door. Soon the white-robed visitors had filled the entire pasture land. On they came. Innumerable. Now the hills surrounding the pastures were filled.
 And yet came more, until it seemed every inch of earth from the hills surrounding Bethlehem to the outskirts of Jerusalem were filled with messengers from heaven. They were everywhere, as far as shepherds’ eyes could see. Mile upon mile the pastures and hills glowed with the light of these luminous creatures.

 As the angels themselves began to take in the magnificence of this unprecedented sight, they each began to shout with uninhibited joy. Pandemonium and delight wed in an exquisite moment of rapture. The sound was like a roar of a thousand seas. But as the discordant shouts of joy billowed forth, they began to change and become one colossal anthem of adoration and praise.
Glory, glory, glory!
Glory to God!
Glory to God who is
in the highest. And here on earth, peace!
Peace has come among men
With whom He is pleased.
 The shepherds, left with no other choice, fell on their faces, stunned by the glory of their surroundings.
 On and on the angels sang. Dumbfounded shepherds, finally adjusting to the impossible, rose to their feet and quite spontaneously joined in the chorus, though they still had no idea what is was they rejoiced in, and cared even less. After all, in the midst of such a scene, anything less than full-throated praise was simply unthinkable.
 Still, the shepherds could not but wonder. What on earth is this? A sudden sea of strange beings. Who are these creatures with the glories of heaven on their faces and in their song? What are they doing here?
 Once more Gabriel called out to the shepherds, but this time his hand pointed straight at them and his voice left no room for debate. This was a command!
“Why are you standing here? Go into the city of David and see what God has done!”
 With that word given, Gabriel and one billion other angels returned to their own habitat, there to continue their glorious anthem. But as the last angel passed through the Door, he noticed that it did not entirely close. A ray of light from the brightness of the glory of heaven seeped through that small opening and poured out into the visible realm.
 The angel also noticed that the Door began to move again. If he was not mistaken, it was moving eastward. Could he possibly trust his eyes? Beneath the sky and clouds…surely not! Was that not Babylon he saw?
 And why, he wondered, was the Door left slightly ajar? If that really was Babylon down there, and if the light of heaven really was seeping through the doorway into the skies above Babylon, surely such a thing would cause great consternation in the city below.
 And, what of the shepherds? Now finding themselves alone, they struck out for Bethlehem to see what God had done. Inexplicably, they ran toward a barn on the outskirts of their village. When at last they reached the entrance to the stable, they stopped to catch their breath.

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