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Authors: Agatha Christie

Star over Bethlehem

BOOK: Star over Bethlehem
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Star over

Bethlehem

——————————

Poems and Holiday Stories

Illustrations by Elise Wrigley

For Hydie

Contents

Cover

Title Page

Dedication

Star over Bethlehem

A Greeting

STAR OVER BETHLEHEM

A Wreath for Christmas

THE NAUGHTY DONKEY

Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh

THE WATER BUS

IN THE COOL OF THE EVENING

Jenny by the Sky

PROMOTION IN THE HIGHEST

The Saints of God

THE ISLAND

The Road of Dreams

A MASQUE FROM ITALY

BALLADS

DREAMS AND FANTASIES

OTHER POEMS

Poems

THINGS

PLACES

LOVE POEMS AND OTHERS

VERSES OF NOWADAYS

About the Author

Praise

Other Works

Back Ad

Credits

Copyright

About the Publisher

STAR OVER BETHLEHEM

 

A Greeting

Praise to the Yule Log!

Leap, Flames, merrily.

Hail to the Wassail Bowl!

Bubble, Wine, rosily!

In the Manger lies the Child;

Asses, Oxen, braying, lowing,

Cackling Hens and Cocks a'crowing.

Overfull the Inn to-night,

Up above a star shines bright,

Shepherds kneel beside their fold,

Wise Men bring their gifts of Gold,

Angels in the Sky above

Trumpet forth God's gift of Love.

Waken, children, one and all,

Wake to hear the trumpet call,

Leave your sleeping, 'tis the Day,

Christmas, glorious Christmas Day!

Star over Bethlehem

Mary looked down at the baby in the manger. She was alone in the stable except for the animals. As she smiled down at the child her heart was full of pride and happiness.

Then suddenly she heard the rustling of wings and turning, she saw a great Angel standing in the doorway.

The Angel shone with the radiance of the morning sun, and the beauty of his face was so great that Mary's eyes were dazzled and she had to turn aside her head.

Then the Angel said (and his voice was like a golden trumpet):

“Do not be afraid, Mary …”

And Mary answered in her sweet low voice:

“I am not afraid, Oh Holy One of God, but the Light of your Countenance dazzles me.”

The Angel said: “I have come to speak to you.”

Mary said: “Speak on, Holy One. Let me hear the commands of the Lord God.”

The Angel said: “I have come with no commands. But since you are specially dear to God, it is permitted that, with my aid, you should look into the future …”

Then Mary looked down at the child and asked eagerly:

“Into
his
future?”

Her face lit up with joyful anticipation.

“Yes,” said the Angel gently. “Into
his
future … Give me your hand.”

Mary stretched out her hand and took that of the Angel. It was like touching flame—yet flame that did not burn. She shrank back a little and the Angel said again:

“Do not be afraid. I am immortal and you are mortal, but my touch shall not hurt you …”

Then the Angel stretched out his great golden wing over the sleeping child and said:

“Look into the future, Mother, and see your Son …”

And Mary looked straight ahead of her and the stable walls melted and dissolved and she was looking into a Garden. It was night and there were stars overhead and a man was kneeling, praying.

Something stirred in Mary's heart, and her motherhood told her that it was her son who knelt there. She said thankfully to herself: “He has become a good man—a devout man—he prays to God.” And then suddenly she caught her breath, for the man had raised his face and she saw the agony on it—the despair and the sorrow … and she knew that she was looking on greater anguish than any she had ever known or seen. For the man was utterly alone. He was praying to God, praying that this cup of anguish might be taken from him—and there was no answer to his prayer. God was absent and silent …

And Mary cried out:

“Why does not God answer him and give him comfort?”

And she heard the voice of the Angel say:

“It is not God's purpose that he should have comfort.”

Then Mary bowed her head meekly and said: “It is not for us to know the inscrutable purposes of God. But has this man—my son—has he no friends? No kindly human friends?”

The Angel rustled his wing and the picture dissolved into another part of the Garden and Mary saw some men lying asleep.

She said bitterly: “He needs them—my son needs them—and they do not care!”

The Angel said: “They are only fallible human creatures …”

Mary murmured to herself: “But he is a
good
man, my son. A good and upright man.”

Then again the wing of the Angel rustled, and Mary saw a road winding up a hill, and three men on it carrying crosses, and a crowd behind them and some Roman soldiers.

The Angel said: “What do you see now?”

Mary said: “I see three criminals going to execution.”

The left hand man turned his head and Mary saw a cruel crafty face, a low bestial type—and she drew back a little.

“Yes,” she said, “they are criminals.”

Then the man in the centre stumbled and nearly fell, and as he turned his face, Mary recognised him and she cried out sharply:

“No, no, it cannot be that my son is a
criminal
!”

But the Angel rustled his wing and she saw the three crosses set up, and the figure hanging in agony on the centre one was the man she knew to be her son. His cracked lips parted and she heard the words that came from them:

“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

And Mary cried out: “No, no, it is not true! He cannot have done anything really wrong. There has been some dreadful mistake. It can happen sometimes. There has been some confusion of identity; he has been mistaken for someone else. He is suffering for someone else's crime.”

But again the Angel rustled his wings and this time Mary was looking at the figure of the man she revered most on earth—the High Priest of her Church. He was a noble-looking man, and he stood up now and with solemn hands he tore and rent the garment he was wearing, and cried out in a loud voice:

“This man has spoken Blasphemy!”

And Mary looked beyond him and saw the figure of the man who had spoken Blasphemy—and it was her son.

Then the pictures faded and there was only the mudbrick wall of the stable, and Mary was trembling and crying out brokenly:

“I cannot believe it—I
cannot
believe it. We are a God-fearing straight-living family—all my family. Yes, and Joseph's family too. And we shall bring him up carefully to practise religion and to revere and honour the faith of his fathers. A son of ours could never be guilty of blasphemy—I cannot believe it! All this that you have shown me cannot be true.”

Then the Angel said: “Look at me, Mary.”

And Mary looked at him and saw the radiance surrounding him and the beauty of his Face.

And the Angel said: “What I have shown you is Truth. For I am the Morning Angel, and the Light of the Morning is Truth. Do you believe now?”

BOOK: Star over Bethlehem
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