The birth of Christ is a remarkable event, critical to our faith. But sometimes we can grow almost immune to the miraculous details, especially if we have heard them a number of times. Thinking about the characters of Advent in real life specifics can lend new insight into the beauty of the Nativity. Here, we see the events of the first century night through the eyes of a few slightly lesser-celebrated figures involved.
Interview with Elizabeth…Relative of the Messiah:
Advent Action Newscaster: Good evening, ladies and gentleman. Welcome to another edition of Advent interviews. Tonight we are investigating some acquaintances of the family that has caused such a stir in Galilee and abroad. I have here Elizabeth, cousin to this woman Mary and mother of a young one herself. Elizabeth, thank you for joining us today.
Elizabeth: I am happy to be here. Thank you.
AAN: We are hoping to shed some light on the rather remarkable events that seem to have caused a bit of a stir in Bethlehem and Nazareth lately. Shepherds are running wild with the excitement of the news. Innkeepers are raving about activity in a stable. Neighbors are gossiping about an unwed mother. It all seems to settle on one little family, and I understand you have a connection with them. How do you know Mary?
Elizabeth: She is a relative of mine. I knew her from her birth, and having no children of my own, she was like a daughter to me. Such a beautiful, wonderful child…
AAN: You say you have no children, yet I see a little one in your arms.
Elizabeth: Indeed, I did not until six months ago. This is John, blessing from the Father above, and a precious gift in my old age. For many years I prayed, and God at last saw fit to grant me the joy of motherhood. Nothing is impossible with God.
AAN: Yes, that seems to be the theme…speaking of impossible births, I heard that there were some rumors floating around about your kinswoman Mary. Was she sent away to live with you while she awaited the birth?
Elizabeth: (pauses) Well…yes, in a way. Our townspeople do not look too favorably on a woman who finds herself, well…in Mary’s particular condition. Children are a cherished and needed miracle, but not without the prerequisite binding contract of marriage. Mary was in danger of losing more than just a reputation, and the same angel who announced her pregnancy also let her know of my similar state. She stayed with me in the final months of my time, which were the first of hers. She saw John’s birth, and then it was time to return to Nazareth. But I will always cherish the time I had with her here at my side.
AAN: I must say that is quite a contrasting pair…Mary so young and inexperienced, and you, well…more mature, at least to be bearing your first child. What I mean to say, of course, is…
Elizabeth: I understand, don’t worry. It is quite unusual for us both. But I knew. From the moment I saw her, I knew she was the chosen one. I am twice blessed, both by my baby and by hearing the news of hers. The Messiah.
AAN: But that’s just it…what made you think there was anything special or significant about Mary’s child?
Elizabeth: When Mary first came through my gate, I felt the baby in my womb stirring, kicking, leaping for joy and enthusiasm. I knew that if an unborn child would praise God in such a way, it surely must be important. I saw her face and I understood. She was the one. God used both of us to demonstrate His amazing power and His careful selection of who is part of His plan.
AAN: So what’s so special about your child?
Elizabeth: (smiling) John is to be the one who prepares the way, who announces to the world the coming of Jesus. When he was born, my husband Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and proclaimed that his son would be a prophet of the Lord most high. But that is not so significant now, now that JESUS has arrived.
AAN: So you have seen Jesus now?
Elizabeth: Indeed I have. I wish I could have been there at his birth, but circumstances were rather difficult. Now that I have laid eyes on Him, there is no doubt in my mind about who He is. My Lord, my Savior and my God.
AAN: Well, thank you, Elizabeth. I know you must be quite occupied caring for the child, so I will move on. You heard it first hand, folks: even a child in utero knew there was something special about this Mary and Jesus…what do you think?
Gabbing with Gaspar: Talking to a Magi
AAN: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to another eyewitness interview chatting with one who claims He has seen the Messiah. Now, it has been a couple of years since the one they call Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but remarkable events seem to still be occurring. Tonight I have with me Gaspar, who has come quite a long way to visit Jerusalem, yet doesn’t seem to mind. Gaspar, tell us why you’ve come here.
Gaspar: I have seen Him. The salvation of Israel, and the world. Nothing could be greater or more beautiful…
AAN: Well, how do you know who He is, and again, why are you here?
Gaspar: Look there, in the sky…do you see it? Gleaming brighter than the rest, shining with almost unnatural brightness?
AAN: Well, yes, I had noticed that…is it a planet? A comet? A supernova?
Gaspar: It is a sign. I have studied the skies all my life. Where we come from, my companions and I are consultants on a number of matters regarding what to do and how. Some call us Wise Men or “Magi.” There is much that can be determined and understood based on the stars. The heavens tell of marvelous, miraculous, and sometimes malevolent things. I know their tales. I know their patterns. But this one…this defies reason. We searched our knowledge. We searched the Scriptures. There was no denying it. This appearance does not line up with astronomy, but with God.
AAN: But if you are so intent on studying the heavens and performing magic, why bother with a Jewish child? How did you know it was so important?
Gaspar: That I cannot explain entirely. I had waited for some meaning, some purpose or calling on my life. And when I studied it, I knew this was it. I had to find out who it was that the sign led to. So along with my confidantes and traveling companions, we came. We wanted to know. And when we saw the child, we did know. It was worth the travels.
AAN: But that is quite a journey. How did you know where to go?
Gaspar: Did you not hear me say we are called Wise? Do you not understand I have watched stars for my entire life? I know the patterns they follow. I know the way the earth shifts and turns. I can follow a cosmic wonder.
AAN: Of course…And how did you specifically find where He was?
Gaspar: Ah, that is an interesting part of the tale. We came to Jerusalem, where King Herod sits in the palace. We asked the king if he knew of this coming Messiah. He seemed rather distressed about the whole thing, but sent us on to Bethlehem. He demanded that we return after finding the child, to let him know exactly where he was. There was something strange about this. Herod seems…odd somehow. I just don’t quite trust him. But we made it to Bethlehem.
AAN: And you found the family?
Gaspar: Yes. We could not help but worship and adore Him. He is surely the One. Nothing can surpass our joy at the sight of him. We left the family with gifts to help them on their way and to use as the boy grows older. It was the least we could offer, but I hope it is worthy of a king.
AAN: Speaking of kings, what happened with Herod? Did you go back to him?
Gaspar: No! I had a most disturbing and revealing dream begging me to take my friends and return to our country following a different route. The family with Jesus fled the land, too. I knew something was strange about that Herod fellow. We did not dare return to provide him information. His worship is at the point of a sword.
AAN: So back to your own country…as though you were never here?
Gaspar: No. Not as though we weren’t here. No one who looks upon the face of that boy will go unchanged. I would live a hundred lifetimes and not be more blessed as the moments I spent with Him. And now…I must go.
AAN: Thank you. And thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for tuning in. I have a feeling this won’t be the last we hear of this family…and this celebrated young child.