Bennochy Windows

Midweek Thought for the Day (December 2020)

Advent Postcards for December

Over Advent, we are asked to imagine the Christmas journey through a series of postcards. Thanks to Nancy Gilmartin for the idea and the material. Enjoy the journey!

Postcard 12 - Nazareth to Ein Kerem: Jesus top John

The last word… Luke 2

When the Festival was over, they started back home, but the boy Jesus stayed in Jerusalem. His parents did not know this; they thought he was with the group, so they travelled a whole day and then started looking for him among their relatives and friends. They did not find him, so they went back to Jerusalem and found him, on the third day, in the Temple, sitting with the Jewish teachers, listening to them and asking questions.

We must meet up again! It was so good to talk about all we have in common and our dreams of making the world a better place. I know we don’t agree with how we do it, but we must prepare for the Messiah coming. That’s why I wanted to stay longer in Jerusalem because I’m convinced the Messiah will be revealed there, in or near the Temple. You are so lucky to live in Ein Kerem just an hour away.

Of course you want to go off to the wilderness and be alone because you believe that’s where you will find the Messiah. Nazareth would suit you as it’s so small it might as well be in the desert. No wonder everyone says that nothing ever happens and nothing good can come from Nazareth! A final question, to be discussed when we meet again... in twenty years or more- it’ll be that long before my parents let me out of their sight again- I’m being serious now: have you ever thought either of us might be the Chosen One? Jesus.

Postcard 11 - Nazareth to Ein Kerem: Mary to Elizabeth

Later…much later. Luke 2

Every year the parents of Jesus went from Nazareth to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. When Jesus was twelve years old, they went to the Festival as usual.

Just to say we will probably try to meet you in Jerusalem next month when we travel up for Passover. I never really enjoy going there because I’m always scared, even after almost twelve years, after what happened with Herod in Bethlehem. But Joseph likes to go and we do wonder if Simeon and Anna are still serving in the Temple. Jesus likes it too, and he and Joseph disappear for hours, listening to all the rabbis arguing and putting the world to rights.

And John and Jesus like to spend time together too. They are more like brothers than cousins really. I often think about the two of them and how similar their stories are really. Strange wasn’t it?

See you soon, Mary

Postcard 10 - Jerusalem to Masada: Herod to Archelaus

King Herod

Matthew 2

When Herod realised that the visitors had tricked him, he was furious. He gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its neighbourhood who were two years old and younger-this was done in accordance with what he had learned from the visitors about the time when the Star had appeared.

You were so kind last month when we brought Jesus for his dedication. I’d love to have talked to you some more about what you said, especially the bit about Mary.

Well, son, our little problem of the new born king is about to be sorted.

Trust no one, that’s my motto. Not even those who call themselves kings, or wise men or astrologers. Not even children can be trusted, no matter how innocent. So... I have given orders to kill all the male children under the age of two in the Jerusalem area. It’s my Final Solution...Dad

Postcard 9 - Cairo to Jerusalem: Joseph to Simeon

Matthew 2

After the Magi had left, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said: “Herod will be looking for the child in order to kill hm. So, get up, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you to leave.”

Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and left during the night, for Egypt.

You were so kind last month when we brought Jesus for his dedication. I’d love to have talked to you some more about what you said, especially the bit about Mary.

However, I was getting a bit worried about Herod. I had heard such terrible rumours I seemed to have two choices: flee to Egypt or go back to Nazareth. My first choice was Nazareth so I decided to sleep on it and see.

However, that Angel came again so we left for Egypt in the middle of the night.

Tell Anna we’re safe and who knows we may meet again. Keep in touch and tell us all the news. Joseph

Postcard 8 - Jerusalem to Ein Kerem: Anna to Elizabeth

Luke 2

22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
    you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
    which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:

34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel.

36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. That very same hour she arrived and gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were waiting for God to set Jerusalem free.

Just thought I’d let you know I met a cousin of yours today in the Temple. What a beautiful baby she and Joseph have, and it was so sweet of them to spend time talking to an old woman like myself! Simeon (he says say hello to Zechariah from him!) and I were just giving thanks again for your surprise baby, when we saw such a lovely couple, obviously lost in the Temple precincts. I know it’s not easy bringing up a child these days, but you know that feeling when you hold a new baby, and you would go through anything for them. Of course, you do, now. Enjoy your son. I will pray for him and his small cousin every day. Anna

Postcard 7 - Damascus to Jerusalem. Casper to Herod

Matthew 2

3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.'”

7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed gifts of gold.

12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

So sorry we didn’t get back to you. I’d be lying if I said we found what we were expecting. Jerusalem and its surrounding area is a fascinating place to visit, but we could never stay long anywhere so seriously lacking in gardens and fresh water.

No we found no signs of Paradise at all. In fact, we didn’t see anything or anyone to worry you or us. So, it’s back to the Star charts for another few years I suspect.

Do let us know if you ever think of coming our way and we will make sure our people will take appropriate care of you. Caspar.

Postcard 6 - Bethlehem to Ein Kerem: Mary to Elizabeth

Luke 2

7 Mary gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Matthew 2

9 The Magi went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

It’s a boy! Well I think we knew that! He’s lovely and sleeps a lot, which is amazing, since it’s so noisy here. Joseph’s cousin runs an Inn - it’s called the Star Inn- and when we got here it was full of Census travellers. We have agreed that Joseph will do repairs in return for our bed and board, so we may be here for a while.

And we have had the most amazing visitors. Shepherds (and their sheep!) and yesterday some people from the East. They had been to King Herod’s palace, but then came here. Something about the Star they said...They left some stuff behind for the baby: smelly bits and pieces, but also some gold, which I’ve hidden in the baby’s wrappings. At least it’s useful!


Postcard 5 - Sumer, Euphrates to Babylon: Balthasar to Caspar

The Magi
Matthew 2

2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

Have you seen the new star? It’s heading west, so Melchior and I are off to follow it. We may take months, but what if this is the sign we’ve been waiting for, the sign for THE ONE?

will start to organise the camel train and I think we ought to take some gold with us. Everyone everywhere accepts gold. And some frankincense too, as we will probably visit a holy place or two in our search and it’s always acceptable as an offering. And myrrh of course, as it’s a cure all for aches, pains and any ailments.

Let me know what you think, and we can meet up in Aleppo in three weeks?


Postcard 4 - Nazareth to Ein Kerem: Joseph to Mary

Matthew 1

18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.

Matthew 1

2 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.

He has! Do not be afraid! That’s the Good News...but our parents aren’t too happy.

However, we won’t see too much of them, because once you come home and we are married, we are going to Bethlehem.

I’ve received notice of a census and we have to register in the place my family first came from...think of it as a honeymoon? Don’t worry; we’ll be there and back before the baby is born! Joseph

Postcard 3 - Ein Kerem to Nazareth: Mary to Joseph

Luke 1

39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the child you will bear!

I’m afraid our little secret is no longer secret. I don’t know how my cousin knew from just looking at me, but she did. And she says the Angel is right.

Do not be afraid. He said it to Zechariah, he said it to me, and he will say it to you too. Mary

Postcard 2 - Nazareth to Ein Kerem: Mary to Elizabeth

Luke 1

23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion.

Wonderful news! Congratulations! Of course, I’d like to come and visit you. You are my favourite cousin after all.

It must be very strange to see an Angel, no wonder Zechariah was struck dumb! I’d love to meet an Angel but nothing that good ever happens in Nazareth.

However I do have some Good News of my own...Joseph and I are betrothed!

My parents want us to wait a year or so because I’m so young, but Joseph wants a wedding once he has finished renovating his house. So it looks like visiting you in Ein Kairem with my parents will be my first and only chance to see the world! Mary

Read our Thoughts for November 2020 ...