Let’s hear the original story first:
(MATTHEW 2) 1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men[a] from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose[b] and have come to worship him.”3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.”
Kings, pagans from far away, oppressed cultures producing baby-kings, outer-space elements in perfect timing, hundreds of years old prophetic writings…This is a lot to wrap your head around. We tend to just blow through this because we know the story, but it was Earth-shaking! …well that doesn’t happen for 33 more years, but that’s for another time.
It’s a normal, busy day in Washington, D.C. on a random day in 2015. Politicians and lobbyists are rushing everywhere and President Obama’s office gets a message that there are Swedish Astrophysicists who would like to talk to him about a special baby that has been born to a Native American family. They’re not sure exactly where the baby was born, but they know it’s in America and this baby will unite the Native American people and will be crowned Emperor of the new nation.
This obviously raises a few red flags for the receptionist (and the CIA) and she immediately brings the note to the President’s inner circle. Discussion among these powerful people is not one of fear, but of definite consideration and further inspection. The interwebs whiz-kids at the NSA are told get dig up everything they can about these Swedes and possible Native American prophecies while the astrophysicists are brought into a room for classified conversations.
Obama has plenty of issues to deal with, but he puts them aside for 30 minutes to sort this out with the Swedes. They’re offered drinks and some snacks and treated with the utmost diplomacy. There’s no need to treat these crazy guys with disrespect. They told their story about the star, the prophecy and that they had come to worship the emperor. Afterward, one of Obama’s advisors, who had minored in Native American folklore at UC Berkeley, pulled him aside quietly for a comment. He said, “Mr. President, you know, that despite our best attempts to appease the Native American people over the years, the United States government has never had an extremely, well, solid relationship with their nation. If this is true…we should probably…” – he can’t finish because he is interrupted by the door wildly swinging open and a crazy-haired guy being led in by some official-looking tough-guys.
Dr. Humphrey is one of the longest tenured National Archive employees. Afterward we find out that someone in his family tree has been working in the Archives for generations. He looks extremely intelligent, a bit eccentric, dripping with social awkwardness and probably 100% accurate. He carries with him a very old book and he goes on to explain that this book dates to a time before Europeans had ever arrived in North America. They all get the feeling that this guy has been waiting his whole life for this moment and probably wondering if it would ever happen. The background story is a bit foggy, but he knows the book had been recovered from a native village after a very early battle between the earliest European settlers and East Coast Native Americans. He then tells his story and reads from the book.
That’s when the air gets sucked out of the room.
This long-held, unknown relic of Native American history had somehow been passed around the world and other ancient cultures knew about (and remembered) this prophecy as well.
What does this mean?
The President and his cabinet do what any governing body would do. Shut it down and maintain their power. [Note: I’m not trying to say anything about our current President. I believe any person in charge of a nation would probably do the same thing. They would, of course, each employ different strategies to accomplish it.]
To continue the analogy…The President gathers his closest advisors and makes sure that this stays in the highest levels of security. This will be dealt with swiftly and efficiently. They don’t want to arouse any suspicions and therefore maintain the veil of diplomacy. Mr. President continues, “Where will this baby be born?” The man from the Archives informs him that the baby will be born near the birthplace of the Native American chief, Sitting Bull, which is along the Yellowstone River near the present-day city of Miles City, Montana.
It seems like an odd place, but at the same time, things seem to make too much sense. Mr. President calmly thanks the Swedish scientists and would also like them to let him know where the child is, so that he can (of course!) worship him too.
When they arrive in Montana, the word gets out. Miles City doesn’t have Swedish astrophysicists worshipping small children and presenting expensive gifts to them very often! The YouTube channel of the Miles City Star Newspaper gets more views than Gangnam Style overnight!
After a wonderful, casual meeting with the family, the astrophysicists begin to pack up their bags. Suddenly, an angel from God appears to them and tells them that Mr. Obama does not have the child’s best interests at heart and they should not go back to Washington, D.C.
This is when the Swedish bust out a few tricks that they picked up from Edward Snowden. They go dark. Way dark. Off the grid. They bounce from Cuba, Venezuela, Russia and back to Sweden.
The President is TICKED! I mean, out of his gourd! Steaming mad. If we follow the analogy all the way through, he would then do the unthinkable and find a way to murder every boy two-years-old and under in Miles City. From the beginning, people were out to kill Jesus.
[NOTE: It’s not in this reading but it continues…] A few verses after this story in Matthew, an angel tells Joseph to take his family and escape Herod as well.
Living in small town Montana, Joseph was raised by survivalists and he knows a few tricks too. After being warned by an angel, he slips with Jesus and Mary into the Montana wilderness to make their way slowly bouncing between reservations and landing in central Canada living with their distant relatives – the native people of Canada.
Later on, after Herod’s (the President’s) death, the family can come out of hiding and return to their true hometown of Nazareth. (insert your favorite US city here)
Wouldn’t there be questions? Wonderings? Who is this child? What will he become?
This analogy gives us a little glimpse into the tumultuous event that Jesus’ birth really was. It was a humble, inconvenient birth by earthly standards, but the presence of God is never without power or impact.
Jesus, God in the flesh, came into His creation and everything changed.
During this Christmas (Advent) season, we remember that an encounter with Jesus will challenge you, change you, grow you, heal you and hopefully continually draw you to be refreshed His grace, love and forgiveness.
Jesus, the one who was the Word at creation, was prophesied as our Savior, who restored our relationship with God, has come into this world.
And His Spirit still lives inside us.