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The True Night Before Christmas

 by: John R. Welch

The father looked longingly at his son. This time tomorrow he’ll be gone, he thought. I don’t want him to go but he must. How will I ever get along without him?

The father wiped a tear from his eye.

The son was busy making final arrangements for his trip. He had never been away from his father. He would miss the father-son times he enjoyed so much.

Where he was going he would have no contact with his father for a long time. He didn’t look forward to that. His father was so wise, and a warm compassionate friend as well. But he knew the trip was necessary so he busied himself with the final details.

They had been talking about the need for him to travel to the faraway place as long as he could remember. But since it was something they didn’t enjoy discussing, they avoided it as much as possible. The only time it came up was when it was absolutely necessary. So there was no surprise when his father told him the time had come.

Although his father was powerful and had thousands under his command; the son had to go alone. He had never been alone. Never. And wasn’t sure how he would handle it. But he was strong and had the support of his father, so he knew it would all work out.

The travel time would be quick. Just the blink of an eye. They had made the trip many times before. The first time they went together was a wonderful time of creativity and the implementation of the master plan. It also gave them the opportunity to meet two people who would impact their lives forever. They knew at that time today’s trip would be necessary. But that was long ago and many things had happened since.

Their previous visits were typically short. They usually went to repair something or to help their friends and their families make plans for the future. There had been some good times and some bad.

The trip itself was not their concern, it was the incarnation. Neither of them had embodied any other form. They had seen this creature develop and watched it learn. Actually they had created it on their first trip. But to take on any other form was new to them. The very nature of this creature was opposed to their hearts cry. Now the son must experience the entire process beginning with birth. The incarnation would be quick. But it would take many years to reach maturity. Every one of those years offered an opportunity to adopt the nature of the creature he would inhabit. What influence would he face? That was the question.

He had never been vulnerable. Soon he would be entering the realm of vulnerability. Especially his first few years. He would be totally dependent on those around him for everything. Every breath. Every morsel of nourishment. Every step he took and most importantly, to help him resist the evil he would encounter. He would be alone. Without his father.

He sighed.

The father had sent Gabriel, his favorite messenger, to tell that the son would be arriving soon. But he only told two people. A teenage girl and her boyfriend. They didn’t believe him at first, but Gabriel convinced them, and promised their world would never be the same after the baby’s arrival. Surprisingly, the couple only told a few of their friends and relatives.

That was yesterday.

The son joined his father and they took a final look at where he was to go. The father spent the next hour explaining their plans one more time. Every detail. The good and the bad. He told his son there would be some dark days and reminded him once again, there was no other way.

The son said, “I understand, Father, and I will make certain every detail of our plan is accomplished.”

Then he added. “Father, I’ll need your help. I’ll count on you being there for me. When we’re separated, I’ll still depend on you. If you see me going the wrong way, please turn me around. When you see me weakening, give me strength. When the evil one approaches, give me words to thwart him. When some don’t like me, help me love them. When tragedy strikes, make me persevere. When I face unbelievers, help me show them you.

The father took his only son in his arms and said, “I’ll never leave you or forsake you. I will send someone to comfort you. I will lead you but not force you, and I will protect you physically. I will bless your words and give you power to accomplish every aspect of our plan. You will win.”

He pushed his son back so he could look in his eyes and said, “The worst part will be when we have no contact. That will be for at least nine months. You will be experiencing the process of becoming mortal. Even after birth we won’t be able to communicate until you develop the capability of reason. It will be a long, long time for us. Before you reach the age of twelve we will renew our relationship. But our communication will be limited by your mortality.”

They embraced one last time.

And the son was gone.

The father cried.

The next nine months were like an eternity for the father. Even though he was able to watch his son’s development, the wait was excruciating.

In heaven he made final arrangements. He gave Gabriel his assignment and the words of his message. He rehearsed the choir of angels and showed them where they would be needed. He created a star to light up the heavens but kept it dark until he called for it.

And the father waited.

On earth, he gave strength to the young couple responsible for his son, made certain a tiny stable in Bethlehem would be available, and kept the night clear for the Shepherds in the field.

And he waited.

And waited.

Then it happened.

He was overcome with emotion. Tears filled his eyes. A smile larger than life lighted his face. His eyebrows shot up in wonder. He was breathless.

The wait was over.

The father lifted his head and with a thunderous voice that rattled the pillars of heaven, shouted.

“He’s here. My son has arrived.”

Then he turned to Gabriel, “Go!”

Gabriel disappeared into the night and glanced over his shoulder to make certain the choir was with him.

The father looked at the darkened star and said, “Now.”

The star exploded with brilliance, flashed across the heavens and stopped over the stable.

The combined brightness of Gabriel and God’s choir lit up the sky above the shepherds. They screamed and wanted to run away in fright, but Gabriel stopped them. “Don’t be afraid. I have good news for you that will bring joy to the whole world. The Son of God has been born. He’s in a stable in Bethlehem.”

The choir could hold back no longer and almost interrupted Gabriel as they shouted in full angelic chorus, “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to all men.”

Joseph took the baby, bathed it and wrapped it in a soft blanket. He gently hugged the tiny baby to his chest. When it began to cry, he gave the baby to his mother.

And the father smiled.