The Neighbor

NOTE-this narrative is from scripture and imagined by fiction. It’s the Christmas story as told by those closest to the event. Please read accordingly. Thanks.

The Voices of Christmas

Part Seven

A CONVERSATION ON THE ROAD TO BETHLEHEM

On the Way to
Conversation On The Way to Register-Bethlehem

SIMEON: This census makes no sense. Augustus doesn’t care how many Jews live in Palestine. He’s just flexing his muscles to get more taxes. If they have our names and know where we live and how we make a living then they can broaden the tax base. The Emperor gets richer and we get poorer.

BENJAMIN: You seem awfully bitter Simeon. I know Rome is brutally uncaring about our condition and would slaughter us if it wasn’t for the income we provide.

But we shouldn’t waste our time complaining about Rome. We should talk about the coming Messiah, and how he will restore our land and redeem us back to Yahweh.

SIMEON: There you go again with that Messiah talk. Benjamin, search your heart, you know there’s no Messiah coming to deliver us, there isn’t an anointed one to restore us. We are on our own. I gave up on the Messiah dream a long time ago and so should you.

And this ridiculous census is just another example of how powerless we are. It’s stupid that we have to go to Bethlehem. Why can’t Rome count us in the towns and villages we live in? It’s just wrong that we travel at our expense to register for increased taxes.

BENJAMIN: I wish you wouldn’t talk like that, it’s discouraging and faithless. Have you given up on God? Is your heart of stone? If Abraham were here would you still speak these blasphemous words? I saw you last week in synagogue so I know you heard the rabbi read from Isaiah, did you pay attention?

“Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

And then…

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 

Simeon, the Lord’s anointed is coming, and not in the distant future but in a matter of weeks or maybe even days!

SIMEON: How can you talk like this? You are not a prophet or the son of a prophet. You can’t possibly know about the coming Messiah, as if there was anything to know.

BENJAMIN: I’ll tell you, for what I know is exciting and full of living hope. The virgin is with child and will soon deliver a son, and will name him Yeshua, our God saves! My friend, lift up your face to the Lord for he is coming to be with us!”

SIMEON: How do you know this? How can you be so certain?

BENJAMIN: I know because I know the girl, she and her family are our neighbors in Nazareth. Have you not heard about this in Tiberius? Is your city so full of Romans that the good news hasn’t reached your ears? Gabriel appeared to her and foretold these things. Her baby is of the Holy Spirit, he is the anointed of God, the Son of David. And it could happen even while we are in Bethlehem, for they are going there to register.

SIMEON: In Bethlehem? Now you are just talking nonsense.

BENJAMIN: No I’m not. Do you remember Micah, the Rabbi also read:

“But you, Bethlehem, though small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come one    who will rule over Israel, whose origins are from ancient times.” 

I have seen Mary, I have spoken with her and with Jospeh, and if you could talk to them you would believe as I do. My brother, the coming of the Lord is happening. He will soon arrive and his birth will be a most merry event for us all, and for all the world.

Be of good cheer, and restore your heart in the Lord, for soon, he is coming near.

Blessed be the name of the Lord!

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