Matthew helped Ruth to her feet and fetched the smooth staff that leaned against the bench. Before handing it to his grandmother, he rubbed the rounded top with his thumb, smiling in the darkness at the familiar etching under his fingertips. Ruth cocked her head and smiled at him, “So we would never forget that night, no matter what happened.” She took the staff and traced the elaborate star that Jacob had carved into the olive branch all those years ago. “And so much happened as a result of that baby. Much suffering and pain, but also much happiness. Such is life - a mixing of sorrow and joy.”
Ruth shuffled a few steps, wincing. “Sitting too long in the cold has made my bones ache.” She leaned heavily on her grandson and patted his arm, “Thank you for coming with me, Matthew. It is sweet to recall these memories with you and it brings me such joy to know that you have these stories buried in your own heart. You can pass them along to your children and your children’s children...”
“Just as you have, Grandmother. Just as you have.” They made their way slowly through the stable door and out into the cold night air. As they rounded the house, Ruth gazed up at the night sky. Matthew stopped and stood, supporting Ruth and looking into the star-filled night with her.
“He’ll come again in the sky, Matthew. The heavens will open and he will call us home to an eternity spent in his glorious presence. And I’m sure the angels with be celebrating again, singing praises to the King of kings and Lord of lords.” Ruth stood staring up into the blackness and Matthew could see that her eyes were glistening with fresh tears. “But you must believe. You must know in your soul that the baby born that night truly was the Messiah. And that later, his cruel death satisfied God’s final requirement for a blood offering. And that ...”
“He conquered death and rose to life ...”
“And ascended to heaven to reign with God.”
“Yes, Grandmother, I believe.”
She turned her glassy eyes to Matthew and smiled, patting his arm again. “I know, Matthew, and for that I am so grateful. But many didn’t. Many refused to believe and died still looking for the Messiah.” She blinked and dabbed at her eyes with her shawl. Nodding sadly, they walked the few remaining steps to the door of her house.