The House of Bread

I was not large when compared to my other sisters in Israel. Humble beginnings whose name marked the task of my life's work. The house of bread, for from me came the flour that would be set upon the table of kings. You see, that is my name, house of bread, where wheat was ground, the staff of life, and sent to my sisters to feed their children.

My  one great claim to fame was that long ago a child was born in the family of Jesse. He being the youngest was anointed when but a young man and raised to be king over Israel. Though in time I felt betrayed, for he chose my elder sister, to be the place where his power and throne were set. So humble I was and humble remain for as a woman with womb, the time for the child came and was taken by the arms of another.

So it has been for me through the ages. Waiting once again for the next time my name would be upon the lips of men. For the prophecy yet remains to be filled that God spoke concerning me. "But though Bethlehem, are not the least of the towns of Israel, for out of you will come my governor, to shepherd my people Israel." What great promise for me it is written. I long with my heart for the fulfilment of my desire.

I, nestled in the hills of Judea, sit in the shadow of my elder sister. Where kings have reigned and prophets spoke of the wonders of God above. I give birth and like a harlot, she kills those who are my children. Her thoughts and deeds at times did bless yet death always followed because of the hardness of hearts that were and still are within her. How long oh Lord, till all is made right and that I be dressed with the glory that belongs to me by promise.

It was then that it happened, on a night so clear, that the stars of heaven seemed to touch my walls with a heavenly glow. With multitudes within and soldiers without, a quietness fell on the land and peace was in the heart of all those who slept. Shepherds did watch their flock on my skirts. Tonight I am with them in heart, watching my children as they watch their sheep. To keep safe and secure those who are entrusted to my care and protection.

Then the stars of heaven seemed to brighten more and the darkness gave way to light. It was not the signal of the approaching dawn  but something other worldly and of a purity that lifted the spirit within. Forms then began to take shape and angels of glory did appear. Their brightness was greater than that of the sun. Sing they did of news so great, of event so profound, that the heavens rang with their declaration that a king once again has been born within my borders.

No ordinary king was he for he is the one foretold, the promise of God now being birthed within my body. I searched the rooms of honour within and yet no child was found. I moved to the houses yet there too no new life cried from within. It was then I heard the angel cry with a voice filled with wonder. These words I caught, "lying in a manger", and quickly my heart ran before the shepherds to see he who has come.

There was the woman, not much more than a child, lying in straw with the beasts of man. A man was kneeling beside her holding a babe, freshly born, in his arms. Tears flowed from the eyes of both as they beheld a child like all others yet not like any other. With salt was the child rubbed and then washed in the trough and with swaddling clothes was wrapped. Then bundled he was into the feeding trough.

While gazing upon the child of light the shepherds arrived in the mouth of the cave. Humbly appearing and awe-struck they were, to the centre of their souls. Here before them lay the king. Here the anointed of the Lord. The peace maker. A babe in whose hands the judgement of God would fall upon all mankind for blessing or cursing. A greater than David now lay here amid the animals, helpless . Yet the eyes of the shepherds beheld the glory to be with heart's filled with faith. Homage they give upon their knees to their future king. With gladness of heart they leave to shout, to proclaim the wonder of the moment and the time for Israel's redemption.

It is with sadness that I perceive the child. As with those of the past so with this child of the future. My sister, in whose shadow I rest, will claim this child as well. She shall cast the child from her bosom and there, at the hem of her skirt, take his life as well.

Here I sit, the house of bread and within me now the bread of life. All that eat of this bread of life shall live and live abundantly. Woe to those who will not eat of this bread, for their destiny, the lake of fire. I pity my sister, for now the time has begun, where her punishment will once again cause the destruction of the house of Israel. She can be no other way nor those who dwell within her. Alas my child shall die as foretold. Yet this I know... when the time is fulfilled, He shall return and enter her once again. This time for death, the next for life. Then once again in that far off time I will become, the house of bread for the bread of life. It is my destiny and that of my child. So it has been written, so shall it be. Amen.

Author: Joseph Raymond
for Christmas 1999

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Hamilton, Ontario, Canada