By Jim Taylor
In those days a decree went out from the Emperors in Washington and Damascus that all the world should be embroiled in civil wars, so that their spheres of influence might be extended. And many were driven from their own towns by bombs and drones and tanks.
A man named Joseph fled from his shattered ruins of his home and business in Syria across the harsh deserts to a refugee camp, where he knew no one. He went with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were in the camp, on their way to anywhere else, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son shortly before dawn, while others slept, in a tent provided by an international aid agency. She wrapped him in her own cloak to keep him warm through the bitter cold of a desert night, and she laid him on the sand, because they had nothing else to put him in.
In that camp there were armed militia patrolling among the tents. They kept their faces covered and their guns ready, keeping watch for enemies who might attack unwary refugees.
Then they heard in the night the cry of an infant. And they were afraid, lest the infant’s cry should attract attention to their location. They said to each other, “Let us silence this child before he can cause any trouble.”
But the stars shone as brightly as ever above them, and they seemed to hear a voice saying inside them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy, to all in this camp and beyond it: for unto you is born this night a sign of new hope. This shall be your sign: in a temporary dwelling, you will find a child wrapped in his mother’s only cloak and lying on the sand.”
And the voice seemed to turn into a heavenly chorus, chanting, “Lā ʾilāha ʾillā llāh; on earth, peace and goodwill to all!”
And the patrollers said to one another, “Allahu akbar! Let us see this miracle that has taken place, even in the midst of war and death and despair.”
So they went among the tents and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying on the sand. When they saw it, they were overcome by compassion. They marveled that a helpless infant, who would surely be a burden and a handicap to his parents in their flight into an unknown future, could be so loved that his mother would give the only thing that kept her warm in the desert night to her child.
And they each held the child in their arms. They pulled down their masks to expose their lined and weathered faces, and muttered soothing sounds. And the baby gurgled and smiled at them.
And they gave his parents what they could—their water bottles, some snacks, and their warm coats. Then they went back out into the darkness just as dawn crept over the eastern horizon.
And Mary treasured their kindness and pondered the experience in her heart.
But the patrollers told no one what they had seen and done.
Author Jim Taylor lives in Lake Country: firstname.lastname@example.org