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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Reason for the Season of Christmas (12/04/08)

TITLE: Magnificat
By Kenneth Bridge


Under a darkling, windswept sky, a spare, keen blade of a man leans against the keening wind, crossing swords with the raging tempest. Upon the naked brow of hill, his naked brow furrows with his intent to know. Stooped by the weight of years but, inwardly unbending, he wrestles with his God, “Where is the coming of my Savior? My advancing age has stripped me bare, but I bear it well, for You said that in my time, my own dimming eyes would brighten at the Deliverance of Israel, the Coming King. Tardy to my grave, I tarry and pray for His Coming. How long, O Lord? My strength flees like dust before the wind. The darkness keeps coming, I cannot push it back.”

The brilliance in his eye is a reflection of a brilliance in the sky. A star, brightly dancing against the lowering clouds, blazes into the darkness, and the darkness cannot withstand it. The warmth of summer youth unbends his crooked frame, and Simeon dances his way down the slope, to his home and to his bed, to dream the dreams of hope. His course is run, the fullness of time has come, the coming One draws near.

Rejoicing on its passage, the star continues its unhurried course over Jerusalem.

Behind great stone walls, in a room draped in royal purple clasped with golden rings, a king stirs from his troubled sleep, trembles and wakes with a start. In the throes of panic, he stares into the darkness, into the deepest shadows, black folded on blackness, cold and empty. His racing heart finds a steady, icier beat and he meets the challenge, staring down the dark abyss before him from the darker abyss within. Whatever evil is to befall him, Herod will oppose with stronger evil. Having risen to the challenge, he falls back into a sullen slumber, and all Jerusalem shudders in its sleep.

Blazing joyfully, the star finds its resting place over Bethlehem.

The slap, thump, slap of iron-riveted sandals grind the dust of desolated dreams under the remorseless, trampling tread of empire. The creaking of leather and clacking of sword hilts against iron armor beats a rhythmic tattoo, the menacing music of the march. From the head of the column comes a thin bleating of sheep, a slap and an alien, Latin curse. Like a stallion disdainfully flicking its tail at a buzzing fly and then dipping its head to graze anew, the cohort quickly resumes its relentless march.

As the last scattered lambs flee across the road, making for the night pastures, the boy at the front of the flock silently curses the backs of the soldiers and then melts into the welcome safety of the hills. He nurses his anger briefly, before letting it go amid the rough fellowship and coarse laughter of his friends, huddling around small fires, taking turns checking the flocks.

A lull in the conversation lengthens as they are suddenly bathed in an eerie light, bright as noon and growing brighter with each passing moment. From within a column of light a shining figure, fierce and fearful, fixes them in its fiery gaze. The shepherds fall, unable to rise until the warmth of its voice thaws their frozen limbs.

“Fear not! I bring you tidings of great joy for all the people! For unto you is born this day, in the City of David, a Savior, who is the Anointed one of God. This is a sign for you, you shall find Him wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

Around the figure, light upon light, song upon song, the heavens are opened and all its angels are singing glory to God, until the last lingering note slips softly into the darkness, and the shepherds stand in a small group, wondering.

Luke 1: 50-52 (NASB)
And His mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear Him.
He has done mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
And has exalted the humble.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Colin Swann12/13/08
I love this sort of writing - mystical and magical! Thanks very much for the Magnificat Feast! Col.

Have a magical Christmas!
Dolores Stohler12/14/08
Although written as prose, this is a truly poetic presentation. Every word, every phrase that you have chosen so carefully, flows with such beauty of expression that I was captivated by it. Well done, you talented poet.
Verna Cole Mitchell 12/16/08
This is an awesome story, masterfully written.
Catrina Bradley 12/16/08
Your writing here is captivating, the repeated words very effective. I love the vignettes of scenes from the night Jesus was born.
Angela M. Baker-Bridge12/18/08
I'm so proud of you Ken! Congratulations on your beautifully written story, EC win, and well deserved move to Masters. xxxx :)