Rachel sat quietly until, lifting her head and flexing her shoulders she realized how chilly the air had become. How long had she been sitting here? She rose from the bench and walked to the grapevine, plucked a small stem of fruit and turned back to the house. As she turned, she saw a strange glow in the sky coming from the hills beyond Bethlehem. The faintest stirring of music trembled on the air as her ears tensed to catch it.
Music? How could there be music? The light pulsed and flickered, so faint, yet so real. She fell to her knees beside the bench. She could almost hear words in the music. She strained to see, to hear the distant sound. The low hills around the shepherds’ caves shone with a dancing light. Mystery, a sense of awesome power, made her tremble with emotion.
Then, the glow faded. The night was silent –a chilly Bethlehem night. She looked around, feeling foolish for kneeling in a dark, empty yard. Awkwardly she rose from the ground, pulled her cloak more closely around her shoulders and made her way back to bed. A feeling of peace settled over her as warm as the cloak she drew over her body and, as sleep overtook her, she wondered if what she had experienced was an illusion. Had she really heard music?
(Rachel had indeed heard music, the heavenly choir announcing the birth of the Christ Child. Jacob is one of the shepherds to whom the angels came and he introduces Rachel to Mary and Joseph. They become fast friends during the Holy Family’s stay in Bethlehem. Then, angels come once more to Joseph and warn him to flee Herod’s wrath. No warning comes to Rachel.)
The second soldier drew his sword and thrust it through the small body dangling from his captain’s hand. Barak’s screams were cut short and his lifeless body flung back at Rachel.
Struggling to her feet as the body struck her chest, she fell with Barak in her arms.
A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more!
(What was the reaction of those mothers whose babes were murdered by Herod in the Slaughter of the Innocents? Follow Rachel’s struggle to reconcile with the God she thinks has abandoned her. A surprise ending will leave you with a new appreciation of God and His care.)
A story for Christmas and beyond.
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