Many of us have heard the Nativity Story over and over again, to where we’ve lost the awe and wonder, along with the emotional roller coaster, of those who witnessed the miraculous birth. This fictionalized account is set in a modern setting to help us rediscover the dynamics of the actual, historical event.
Joe stood up and headed for the front door. “You’re expecting God’s baby?” He shook his head. “That’s hard to believe. I …I…need some time, Mary. Our marriage may not—.”
Tears filled Mary’s eyes. “But it’s true, Joey. An angel named Gabriel really did come and talk to me.”
Joe paused with his hand on the doorknob and stared down at the floor. “Why don’t you simply tell me who the baby’s father really is?” He looked up into Mary’s eyes. “I’m not mad, exactly, only hurt and disappointed. Did you meet this guy while visiting your cousin Elizabeth?”
“No, no!” Mary shook her head. “It wasn’t a man. The angel Gabriel came before I went to Zach and Elizabeth’s. God is the baby’s father, honest!”
Joe took a deep breath and gazed at his fiancé. Silky black curls framed her face. Tears spilled from her dark green eyes. His heart twisted between love for her and new distrust. “No Mary, it doesn’t work that way.” He opened the door and stepped outside.
Mary grabbed his arm. “I’ve never lied to you before and I’m telling the truth now.”
Joe shook off her grasp and headed down the sidewalk toward his car.
“Joey, please believe me.”
He didn’t answer or look back. Mary’s soft sobs pierced his heart as the front door clicked shut. With shaking hands he fumbled for the car keys in his pocket and hit the unlock button.
How could Mary think he’d believe such a far-out story?
Joe slipped behind the wheel and shook his head in disbelief. How could she … He bolted upright. Maybe Mary’s losing her mind, or….
Maybe some guy forced himself on her and this is how she’s dealing with it. His stomach flip-flopped. Whatever happened she needs professional help. Yeah, that’s the answer. Tomorrow I’ll make some inquiries and find a good psychiatrist, for her sake and the baby’s.
He took a deep breath. At least I have a plan. Not a good one, but it’s a beginning. Oh, how I love her. Why did this have to happen?
The tires squealed as Joe’s car roared into the street and he headed toward his apartment complex.
At home that evening, Joe slipped out of his flannel shirt, work jeans and boots. He washed up and then pulled on a pair of flannel sleep pants and a T-shirt. After fixing himself a strong cup of cappuccino, he grabbed a bag of corn chips from the cupboard and plopped down in front of the TV. He clicked on the Home and Garden channel and settled in to watch a run-down garage get transformed into an office. But his thoughts kept drifting back to Mary.
I’ll ask for the ring back. No, she can keep it. Maybe I should wait to see if she goes to a psychiatrist. Yeah, I’ll wait ‘til then. Got to get her to a shrink.
Joe headed for the kitchen and grabbed his cell phone off the counter. He punched in Nazareth psychiatrists and scanned down the list appearing on the screen.
Hey, here’s Dr. Elias Grassley…I remodeled his basement rec room a while back. Didn’t know he was a shrink. Joe paused in thought. If I remember correctly, Grassley was a real nice guy to work for. Yeah, I’ll give him a call in the morning.
Once again he flopped down on the couch in front of the TV and munched on corn chips between sips of cappuccino. After the run-down garage turned into a state-of-the-art office, the next program came on – a young couple buying their first home.
Joe cringed. Picking up the remote, he flipped to a channel running back-to-back episodes of Gilligan’s Island reruns. Three shows later, he nodded off into a sound asleep as the TV droned on….
A bright light hit his eyelids. Still half asleep and dreaming, Joe rolled over toward the back of the couch, away from the light.
The voice and light worked its way into his dream … he and Mary were walking hand in hand on the sidewalk, under a bright streetlight. She tried to tell him something….
The dream dissolved and he felt someone gently shaking his shoulder. He opened his eyes. A man dressed in shimmering clothes stood beside him.
Shockwaves rippled through Joe. How did the intruder get in? He flipped over the back of the couch and squeezed himself against the wall. After a few wiggles and twists he fell onto the floor behind the couch. He glanced around for something to hit the guy with, but only saw a few dust bunnies and a lone corn chip.
Joe’s heart raced. He pulled his knees against his chest, ready to kick as the man grabbed one end of the couch and pulled it away from the wall.
The glittering man stared down at Joe. “I’m Gabriel. We need to talk. Let me help you up.” The man extended his hand to Joseph.
But Joe didn’t budge. He only stared at the man and his shining clothes.
The man kept his hand extended. “Get up. We need to talk.”
Joe stayed frozen in place. No more late night corn chips and cappuccino. I must be dreaming. He pinched himself, hard. It hurt, bad.
The man stepped next to Joe. “Don’t kick. It won’t hurt me.” He reached down and pulled Joe to his feet. “Sit down on the couch and keep both ears open. I have a message for you.”
Joe stumbled around to the front of the couch and sank down onto a cushion, never taking his eyes off the glowing figure standing in front of him. “This cannot be happening,” he mumbled to himself. “Tomorrow I’ll make two appointments with Dr. Grassley, one for Mary and one for me.”
The man sat down beside Joe. “That’s what I came to talk about.”
“No, Mary and the baby.”
“Are you the baby’s father?”
“No, no, no! I’m Gabriel.”
“Mary’s Gabriel, the angel?” Joe scooted to the other side of the couch.
“Yes, I’m an angel sent to you by God Himself. The baby boy Mary is expecting really is the Son of God. Her baby is the Messiah whose birth was prophesied by God’s prophets long ago. You and Mary have been chosen by God to be His earthly parents.”
Joe ran both hands through his hair. “Then Mary wasn’t unfaithful to me?”
“And nobody forced himself on her?”
“No, of course not. Mary told the truth. Many times you’ve read the writings of the prophet Isaiah in the Holy Scriptures, ‘behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son.’ ”
“What! Mary is the virgin spoken of by the prophets? She’s the mother of God’s son?”
Joe sat in stunned silence for several minutes.
“Is … is it okay if we still get married? Or is Mary supposed to be a single mom?”
Gabriel chuckled. “Of course you are to take Mary as your wife. Like every other child, God’s Son also needs a secure and loving home. Wed Mary as soon as possible, but you must not be intimate her until after the baby is born. Love and raise the Child as your own offspring.”
Joe covered his face with his hands and wept with relief. Mary loved him as much as he loved her. Their dreams weren’t shattered, only changed. He wiped his face with his shirt sleeve then turned to speak to Gabriel.
But the angel had vanished.
I have to talk with Mary, right now. The clock read a little past two in the morning. Joe scrambled for his phone and hit Mary’s number. She picked up on the second ring.
“We need to talk.” Joe blew out his breath. “Your angel Gabriel visited me tonight and—”
“And now you believe me.” Mary’s voice broke into sobs. “I … I’m so … re … relieved.”
“Do you mind cancelling our big wedding plans? We’ll go to our rabbi and get married this weekend? Gabriel said we should wed as soon as possible. My apartment is big enough for us and the baby.”
“Oh, Joey … yes!”
“I can move your belongings out of your parent’s house into the apartment over the next few days. Oh…what will your folks say?”
“Mom and Dad will just be glad were getting married right now. They didn’t believe me either.”