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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Carols/Carolling (10/02/08)

TITLE: Bethlehem's Choir
By Melanie Kerr


Please donít ask me whether I have been to Bethlehem before. My answer would not be the one you are expecting. I should have listened when a friend told me that the past should remain firmly in the past and itís never a good idea to go back to places.

I was in Bethlehem many years ago, long before it became part of the pilgrimage tour. It was just an unknown village nestling in the hills in a turbulent country just about the time when BC became AD. When the eyes of the enemy were focussed on the grand cities, golden palaces and great kings, the event that would have the biggest impact on the world was happening in the shadows.

I wasnít a major player. I wasnít the archangel announcing the birth the young girl. I didnít slip into the troubled dreams of her intended husband bringing reassurance that it was all part of the Plan. I didnít stir the wise men to travel thousands of miles for the glimpse of a child.

I sang in the choir that night.

There are some events in history that shouldnít go unmarked. Something so pivotal was about to happen. Maybe it wouldnít change heaven so much, but life on earth was about to be transformed. How could we not celebrate it?

It was just a small choir. The hosts of heaven yearned to be witnesses, but just a few were chosen. How like the Father not to exclude those that didnít possess the best voices. I love to sing, but I donít always hit a pure note.

Singing on earth is so different from singing in heaven. Eternity paints a backdrop that no earthly brush strokes can replicate. The light in heaven seems to catch the music as it floats in the air, bouncing off sound in a prism of colours. The earth with its borrowed light catches nothing. In heaven there is the unity off all the angels joined together in a celebration of worship. On earth no one really hears. Their ears may pick up a sound, but their hearts are deaf.

Tiny pinpricks of light were stapled on a black sky. I have never seen the stars from so far away. We sang the opening phrase.

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests."

Had you been there that night you would have thought earth was silent. Your ears would have heard no response. No loud ďAmenísĒ. But we could hear creation joining in. There was a melody in the wind that breathed through the trees and laughter in the water gurgling from the spring. The moon softly murmured and joy rippled through the grass. We heard it all. Creation was stirring, as realisation was dawning that soon captivity would be taken captive and freedom was close enough to smell.

A huddle of shepherds and a smattering of sheep were our audience that night. They stared at us, open mouthed, eyes pulled wide in their sockets. They had never seen the likes of us before, or heard the song that we were singing. Such a distance between them and the created world there was that for all their eyes, they could not see, and for all their ears, they could not hear. They couldnít join inÖnot yet.

How many songs did we sing? Just the one. The words spelled out an ancient truth. The melody echoed the song of the stars as creation was made in the beginning.

This was a new beginning.

After a thousand years or more why do I return to the same place? My fingers trace the scars of war in the dust and smell the lingering fragrance of gunpowder in the air. I read headstone after headstone in the cemeteries. I hear the sobbing of families robbed of a father or a brother. There is no laughter in the trees and the spring has long dried up. Disappointment on my tongue has a bitter sting. The world is still enslaved.

Just as I am about to leave, I hear it. Faintly. There is another choir singing our song of peace. Not inside a church, surrounded by stained glass windows and marbled columns, they stand on the corner of a street, a small choir of the Fatherís children singing a song of peace to their Muslim neighbours.

I add my voice to theirs and, slowly, ever so slowly, creation joins in.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Marita Vandertogt10/10/08
What a beautiful, creative take on the topic... the ending was very powerful for me, with the picture of war on a place that started out bringing peace... the King of Peace. But you ended with hope... this is really good.
Laura Anne Harrison10/10/08
Very well written, this beautiful story expresses the hope of the first Christmas for a world in turmoil today.
Verna Cole Mitchell 10/14/08
I treasured your message of hope where hope began and relished your word choices. Some of my favorites were:
a huddle of shepherds and
...pinpricks of light were stapled on a black sky.
Karlene Jacobsen10/14/08
Creative POV. I liked it. Like the angel's, no part is too small.
Joy Faire Stewart10/15/08
Beatifully written with a wonderful message of hope.
Valarie Sullivan10/15/08
Wonderful! I loved the descriptions of the shepherds! Good message.
Dixie Phillips10/15/08
Amazing! God has truly blessed you with a gift. Such creativity! This really should be a ministry resource for church's at Christmas. Have you ever thought of writing a book for Christmas? It could be full of monologues and dramatic dialogues. I think you should consider it.
Leah Nichols 10/16/08
I like this piece very much - a very creative entry and neat POV. Nice work!
Lyn Churchyard10/16/08
Wow! Melanie, this was great. The Christmas story from an "ordinary" angel's point of view. I love the way you ended with the angel joining with the group of Christians to sing carols to their Muslim neighbors.m
Charla Diehl 10/20/08
Melanie, this was touching, creative and moving. In today's world we need to hold on to hope like never before. Thanks so much.