"Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine. Let us drink the cup of redemption as we recline." Jeconiah, the family’s aged patriarch, lifted his clay drinking vessel and gulped down the wine. A few drops spilt over the rim and careened halfway down his snowy beard until he halted their trek with a scarlet cloth napkin.
"Four hundred and thirty passed before the Holy One, blessed be His name, delivered us from our captors. Now as we endure tyranny under Rome, we await another deliverer, one in the same mold as Moses.
"Please pour your fourth cup, the cup of thanksgiving, while I pour out this special cup." Jeconiah carefully filled a finely polished bronze cup that was masterfully engraved with the Hebrew letters ‘aleph,’ ‘lamed,’ ‘yod,’ and ‘he’- the name ‘Elijah.’
"We have set this place for Elijah the prophet who will usher in the Messiah. Would someone please rise and open the door so Elijah may enter."
Young Josiah rose from his lambskin cushion and pushed opened the rustic, wooden door. The gentle evening breeze caressed his youthful face before he returned to the family. Together they recited a Psalm and partook of the cup of thanksgiving.
"Come and deliver us, O Lord, from our enemies. Amen." Thus, concluded the yearly Seder.
"Papa," Josiah inquired, "did you ever meet Moses?" The sincerity of the child’s question accentuated the humor of it. Jeconiah couldn’t help but unleash a boisterous laugh despite the solemnity of the moment.
"No, my child. I never met Moses. But perhaps, Adonai will permit me to meet the One like Moses."
"You mean the Messiah?" Josiah’s eyes sparkled with childlike expectation as he considered the thought.
"Yes, Josiah. The Messiah"
"Why hasn’t he come yet, Papa? Doesn’t God love us?"
"O, my child, God loves us with a greater love than all our love combined. But His timing is not always our timing, nor are His ways our ways. Though the Romans occupy our land, we will be delivered, even as our ancestors, when the timing is right."
The bleating sheep indicated an intruder was near the flock. Josiah and Jonathan scouted the opposing ends of the pasture. Sure enough, a pack of wild dogs prowled the western edge. The evening sky produced mere silhouettes, but it enabled Josiah to track the pack's movement. He whistled for Jonathan who sped to his side. They each gripped their staff and approached the dogs. The pack leader bared its teeth, growled in defiance of their advance, and lunged at the two shepherds. Josiah leveled his staff against the canine’s jowls with an echoing crack. The staff remained intact, but the dog’s jaw hung awkwardly limp as the animal retreated in a whimper with the pack in suit.
"Nice work, Josiah!"
"Thanks, Jonathan. I wish it were that easy to get rid of the Romans."
"Tell me about it. Now they want us to register for this census in our hometown-?"
"So they can collect more taxes. I really wish God would send a deliverer."
Determining the threat was quelled, they relaxed their defensive positions and headed back to the flock. Jonathan turned toward Josiah with his brow furrowed and asked, "Do you really think God will send the Messiah?"
"I don’t know, Jonathan. When I was a boy, I thought God should have already sent the Messiah. Now it’s twenty years later. I don’t know what God's waiting for, but He’s certainly waiting."
The flock’s nervous bleating resumed. The shepherds scanned the region assuming the wild dogs had regrouped. However, they could find no sign of them. The sheep grew more and more frantic running about in a near psychotic fashion. Suddenly a brilliant white illuminated the night sky and a celestial being appeared in the midst of it.
"Fear not. I bring you good news of great joy to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior which is Christ the Lord."
"For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes." The Pastor finished the communion service and dismissed the congregation. In the second to last pew, young Tristian turned to his grandfather and asked, "Grandpa, why hasn’t Jesus come back yet?"
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