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Who Indeed?

December 22

Who is there? I ask again.


"Who indeed," an owl leans over the wooden beam above me, into the torchlight.


"Sir, can you tell me where I am?"


"In the palace of Herod the Great," she said. "Who is king of the Jews, for now. But who are you, and why are you here?


"I am a camel of the Magi," I said, "though I do not know why I have to be here. There is a star that moves across the sky, and my master made me to follow it."


The owl knowingly nodded. "I myself have seen this star, as I flew over the desert, and over Jerusalem and its temple mount. Every night the star drew nearer. I know the star; to me, the star is like an old friend."


"The star is no friend to me," I said. "How do you know this star?"


"The star is no ordinary star. It is the emissary of a new king, the heir to King David, our greatest ruler."


"I knew it! The star is a king's emissary. But why would the Magi care about the king of a tiny kingdom like Judea?"


"This ruler is not just a king," says the owl. "He is the Messiah, God with us, and his kingdom will last for ever and ever."


"God?" I gasp. "The God? But the god of a tiny people like the Jews could not equal the gods of the great empires."


The owl rotates her head and leans it to one side. "Who are those?"


How could she not know? I scrunch my eyes hard and try to think of all the gods I know.

"Well, for starters "there's the mighty Ahura, of the Persians, whose eternal struggle against the evil Angra Mainyu (mine-you) sustains us all.


"They sound like mighty, heroic gods," remarks the owl.


"There’s also Amun of the Egyptians, creator of all, and Osiris keeper of the power over life, death, and resurrection.


"Powerful gods," replies the owl.


"And I haven't even mentioned the wonderous gods in the west: Zeus, the great god of the sky, hurler of lightening and sounder of thunder; Apollo, perfect in form and beautiful to behold; gray-eyed Athena, the all-wise. Even the Romans bow before these gods."


"Wonderous indeed."


"Really, how could the god of a tiny desert kingdom equal the gods of the west?"


The owl shakes her head. "He probably does not equal them," she finally says. Then she looks at me with her big round eyes. "Nevertheless," she says. "The Messiah is here, in Bethlehem, and there you will find the true answer to your questions" Then, spreading her wings, the owl rises to the window near the ceiling, and she disappears into the night.


Troubled, I tossed and turned the rest of the night.

Move the wisemen close enough to see the Nativity.

Pray a prayer for thanksgiving for what you have this Advent.

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