Every year for at least the last 21 years, I have written a children’s Christmas story for our Christmas Day service.

This year is the first time I have not read my story on Christmas Day. This year’s story is told from the perspective of a young woman. So, it was beautifully read by my niece. Here is the story Clara read this morning.

The King’s Messenger

When I was a little girl, Herod was king over my people in Judea.

Clara reading 2015 Christmas Story

Clara reading 2015 Christmas Story

My name is Tolita and I am going to tell you the story of how I became the king’s messenger.

Herod was a mighty king. He was so important that, even though no one liked him, we all called him Herod the Great.

Herod lived in a beautiful palace in Jerusalem. I knew Herod’s palace well because my mother was one of the cooks in the big kitchen where Herod’s meals were prepared. My mother and I lived in a small room not far from the kitchen.

I seldom saw Herod. He did not come to the kitchen and I was forbidden to go into the rooms where he lived or the great gathering hall where he met with people. Occasionally I would catch a glimpse of Herod riding in a chariot or on a horse in the courtyard. Sometimes, when there weren’t enough servants, I would help clean the plates away in the dining hall when Herod was still lying at the table with his guests.

I did not like Herod. His face was hard and mean. The few times I heard him speak his voice sounded harsh and scary. Once I saw Herod really angry.

There had been rumours that a new king had been born in the land and Herod the Great became furious.

Some wise men had come to find this new king who had been born. They thought a king should be born in a palace. So they came to the palace to meet the new king. But, Herod did not know where the king was and told these wise men to keep searching until they found him and then to send word so Herod could go and honour the new king himself.

That is how I became the King’s messenger.

Herod wanted someone to go with the wise men to report where the new king had been born. But Herod wanted all the men and even the boys to stay close to home in case he had to fight this new king. So, the only person who could be spared to travel with the wise men was a little girl who was not useful for anything else.

I was called into the great meeting hall. The king sat on his throne at the far end of a long room. I had to walk all the way down that room with the king staring at me. When I got to the foot of the stairs leading up to the platform where he was sitting, I stopped. The king looked at me and asked,

“Girl, how old are you?”

“I am eight years old, my lord.” My mother told me to call him “my lord.”

“Are you strong?”

“I help in the kitchen, my lord. I lift large pots and carry heavy boxes for my mother.”

“Fine,” he said, “I have a job for you. You are to go on a journey with some men from a foreign land. They are looking for someone. When they find the person they seek, you are to return and tell me where they found him. Do you understand?”

“Yes my lord.”

“Do you think you can ride a donkey?”

“I believe I can, my lord.”

“Alright. Go to the stables. The stable hand will give you a donkey. Then wait for the foreigners and go with them on their journey.”

The men did not want me to go with them. But I told them Herod, the Great had said I must, so they let me come.

It was a long journey. At first we did not know where we were going. But then the wise men saw a star. They said it was a special star and that this star would guide us to the person they were seeking.

I thought this person must be very important, if these wise men wanted to see him and even Herod thought he should visit this new king. So, I was pretty surprised when the star led us to a poor little village and a small shed behind an inn on the edge of town.

I don’t know if the wise men were also surprised; they knocked gently on the door of the stable. A voice inside invited us in; we entered and found a man with a woman who was holding a baby. The wise men seemed to think the baby was the one they had come to see. They kneeled down and laid gifts beside his bed.

Everything was still and silent.

The woman looked at me.

“Come closer,” she said. “I want you to meet Jesus. God has told us that Jesus is going to be a great king.”

I looked at the baby. He looked so helpless, not at all like Herod the Great. I wondered how a baby born in such a poor place could ever become a king. But, the more I looked at this baby, the more I felt peace in my heart. I felt something strong growing inside me that had never been there before. This feeling seemed bigger and more real even than Herod the Great.

After a while, I left with the wise men. We slept outside Bethlehem so we would be ready to make an early start on our journey.

In the morning, the wise men said they were not going back to Jerusalem. They had had a dream in which an angel told them not to let Herod know where the baby had been born. Herod wanted to kill this new king. The wise men said I should come with them, so Herod could not find me and demand that I tell him where the new king had been born.

But I could not desert my mother. Although I was frightened of Herod, I had to return to Jerusalem.

I was sad to leave the wise men. But I remembered that strong, peaceful feeling I had when I saw the baby Jesus and I trusted that I would know what to do when I got back to Jerusalem.

It was night when I arrived at Jerusalem. All was quiet. I left the donkey on the edge of the city and went on foot to the palace and through the servants’ gate to the room I shared with my mother.

I could hear my mother breathing in her sleep. I sat on the side of her bed and touched her shoulder. She sat up as if she had not been sleeping at all. As soon as she saw me, she put her arms around me and held me tight.

“I was so afraid. I thought I would never see you again,” she sobbed.

“Shhhh…” I hushed. “We have to leave the palace. If we don’t go away, something terrible will happen. I can’t explain. Please trust me. We have to go.”

“But Tolita,” my mother said, “we can’t leave. Herod will be very angry. We have nowhere to go. No one will take us in. We will be all alone. It is impossible. Life is hard for refugees.”

“Listen,” I pleaded.

Quickly I told the story of finding the baby Jesus. I explained that Herod wanted to hurt the baby because he was afraid of a new king. I described the peace and strength I had when I saw baby Jesus.

Then I held my mother’s hand and looked in her eyes and said, “Just wait; be still; listen. I know you will feel the peace and strength of the baby Jesus; then you will know my words are true.” We sat for a moment.

Everything was still and silent.

Suddenly my mother let go of my hand. She got up and said, “I must dress; we will pack a few things. Let us go.”

It was only moments before we left the palace through the servants’ gate. We walked through the sleeping streets of Jerusalem. We found the donkey I had left on the edge of the city and took the road that led into the wilderness.

We should have been terrified fleeing from the violence and anger of Herod. But somehow the strength and peace of the baby Jesus just kept growing. We knew our journey would be blessed and we would be safe with the secret of the new king in our hearts. We trusted the stillness and silence inside and knew wherever we travelled we would always feel at home.

© Christopher Page December 2015