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.
Rasha parked her car next to the Ancient Oracles Observatory and stepped out into the cool night air. She glanced up into the cloudless sky peppered with bright stars.
Good. It’s a perfect night for star study. Maybe we can discover something new before morning comes. She scanned her ID card and punched in the clearance code. A steel door slid open to let her inside.
Rasha entered the workstation. The aroma of coffee tinged with cardamom confirmed Omar’s earlier arrival. She slipped into her desk chair. Omar strolled into the room carrying two mugs of steaming hot coffee and handed one to her.
“Thanks, Omar. No one makes coffee as good as yours.” She took several sips of the rich brew and chuckled. “Knowing how to make good coffee should have been a requirement for getting our magi certification. Especially since we work all night long.”
Omar smiled. “The secret is adding the right amount of cardamom to give coffee that zingy flavor. I made extra so Naji can have a mug when he gets here.”
Rasha booted up the computers while Omar began downloading the data from the observatory’s giant telescope. As the last of the data printed out, Rasha glanced at the wall clock. “Twenty minutes past the hour and still no Naji.”
Omar shrugged. “That’s Naji. Always late, always unpredictable, and…well…always Naji.”
“He does have a knack for the unusual.” Rasha laughed. “Like last week when he locked himself out of his apartment. Poor guy.”
“Yeah.” Omar chuckled. “I can picture him stepping into the hallway and the door starting to swing shut. Then he realizes his keys are on the kitchen counter. He whirls around to go back inside but instead gets his necktie caught in the door as it clicked shut.”
“And we find him trapped and half strangled by his own door.” Rasha laughed again. “It’s a good thing we went looking for him when he didn’t show up for work. I wonder what his excuse will be this time.”
The phone rang and interrupted Rasha. She glanced at the Caller ID and picked up. “Hello Naji. You’re late. What’s the problem?”
“Rasha, I found a copy and had it mailed overnight express. It just arrived a few minutes ago.”
“A copy of what?”
“Remember the strange star formation we saw last night? I knew I’d seen it somewhere before. I found a book—”
“Naji, forget the book. Just get yourself in here. Now!”
“I’m coming but so is the book. You and Omar will be totally surprised at what it says.”
Thirty minutes later the two magi stared at Naji and his book with total amazement.
“It’s an old reprint of the Oracles of Ancient Seers,” Omar whispered. “I didn’t know any of these books still existed. This copy has to be over two hundred years old.”
Mouth agape, Rasha took the book from Naji. Barely breathing, she ran her fingers over the raised gilded symbols on the cover before opening the book and perusing its pages.
“These prophecies go back to the empire of the Medes and Persians. Several are even older, made during the reign of the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar. Where did you ever find a copy?”
Naji grinned. “On eBay. I had it shipped overnight. But this is the exciting part. That new star formation we saw last night is recorded in an ancient prophecy.” He took the book from Rasha and flipped through the pages. “It’s here on page 375.”
Rasha’s eyes widened. “A prophecy being fulfilled? Are you sure?”
“There’s one way to find out,” Omar said, shuffling through the papers on his desk. “I have the printout from last night’s star formation. Naji, read the prophecy.”
Naji’s voice quivered with excitement. “It says, ‘To Eber: Behold the Ram in the East. Your eternal king is born as the royal star and moon conjunct. The royal star leads the way.'”
Naji paused, then continued. “As we know, Ram is the constellation Aries and represents the Hebrews. Jupiter is the royal star and signifies divine kingships when in conjunction with the moon.”
Omar’s jaw dropped. “The printout shows Aries in the eastern sky and Jupiter traveling through Aries in conjunction with the moon!”
Rasha gasped. “A divine newborn king…” Her words trailed off. “I have to make a phone call, in private. Be right back.” A few minutes later she rushed into the room. “Dig out your passports and pack your bags. We’re off to find the young king with all expenses paid.”
The following afternoon found Rasha, Omar, and Naji riding through the desert in a military surplus Humvee equipped with a Global Positioning System.
“I programmed all the coordinates into the GPS,” Omar said. “Now we can travel off-road without getting lost. It will be shorter if we bypass the main roads most of the way and travel as-the-crow-flies. This Humvee can travel anywhere.”
Rasha gave Omar a skeptical look. “Can this vehicle really go anywhere off road?”
Omar grinned. “Sure thing.”
Twenty sandstorms, six oil changes and one engine-rebuild later, the three magi arrived at their destination.
Rasha pulled out her cell phone and looked up the address for City Hall.
“Go two blocks down this street and turn left. It’s the third building on the right.”
They parked the Humvee and entered City Hall. Rasha walked over to the wall directory. “The governor’s office is on the third floor. He, or his administrative assistant, should know where we can find the king child.”
After a thirty-minute visit, the three magi left the governor’s office. Omar kept shaking his head. “Something is not right. The governor, his administrative assistant, and even his aides claim to know nothing about the king child. But they certainly knew what questions to ask.”
Naji nodded in agreement. “I didn’t care for the tone of voice, either, not friendly at all.”
As Omar pushed open the door to leave the building, one of the governor’s aides burst out of the elevator and ran toward them. He thrust a business card into Rasha’s hand. “Here’s my cell phone number. Call me when you find the child so…we can…aahhh….worship this young king also.”
Rasha took the man’s card and stuffed it into her coat pocket. She said nothing until they were in the Humvee and pulling out of the parking lot. “I don’t trust that aide, the governor, or anyone else we met. All of them seemed very upset to hear about the prophecy being fulfilled.”
When they reached the Humvee, Naji leaned against the back bumper then suddenly ran off.
Omar glanced at Naji then gave Rasha a questioning look. She shrugged. “It’s Naji, no explanation necessary.
Naji returned, panting for breath. “They don’t trust us, either. I discovered a tracking device hidden under our bumper. But the joke’s on them. I stuck it on the tour bus parked at the other end of the parking lot.”
Omar grinned. “That should keep them busy once the bus drives away.”
Naji’s stomach growled. “I see a Chick-fil-A down the street. Let’s grab something to eat then decide where to go next.
“Great idea,” Omar said. “I’m starved.”
As the three magi munched on chicken sandwiches, waffle fries, and fresh-squeezed lemonade, the daylight faded away and turned into night.
They dropped their trash into the receptacle and headed for the Humvee.
“Hey, there’s the star formation again.” Naji pointed into the sky. “It’s strange that it would appear again after all this time.”
“Naji, calculate the coordinates,” Omar said, “and I’ll punch them into the GPS. That should lead us straight to the young king.”
Rasha clasped her hands together. “After all this time, we’re almost there.
Naji, pull out the gifts for the child king. You did remember to buy them, right?”
“Yep! They’re right here.” Naji waved an envelope in the air.
“What’s with the envelope?” Rasha’s eyes narrowed. “You were supposed to get gold, frankincense and myrrh.”
“Nothing happened to them, I bought other things instead,” Naji explained as Rasha’s face turned an angry red. “Gold is impressive but black gold is better, so I bought three shares of stock in the Desert Oil Company. And frankincense smells wonderful, but being a resin, it could get sticky on a long desert trip, so I bought three shares of Pungent Perfume stock.”
Rasha stared at him in disbelief. “And what did you get in place of myrrh?”
“That’s an odd gift for a baby,” Naji answered. “Do you know it’s used for embalming? Yuk! Instead, I bought three shares of Pillbox Pharmaceutical stock. All the gifts are paper certificates and much more convenient when traveling.”
Rasha gave Naji a look that would freeze fire then slumped down in her seat. Omar shook his head and laughed. “Calm down, Rasha. Everything will be fine.”
The coordinates led them to a small house on the outskirts of town. The stars shone bright onto its roof. Omar pulled into the driveway and turned off the ignition.
“Looks like someone is home,” Naji said. ‘The lights are on inside.”
Rasha took a deep breath. “Well, this is it. Let’s ring the doorbell and meet the young king.”
Actual Historical Ending:
“They (the magi) entered the house where the Child and His mother, Mary, were and they fell down before Him and worshiped Him.” Matthew 2:11a