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When Heaven Came Down
Christmas program written for my church.

My name is Malachi, Hebrew for “my messenger.” I’m appropriately named, for that is what I do. 
Angels are, for the most part, invisible, but we can adopt a human body for a short time. 
I prefer to be invisible, acting like a human is restricting. I like the feeling of the wind whistling through me.

Tonight I want to tell you a story.
A story from long ago, that should never be forgotten.
I helped that night, not in the form of dreams like Michael and Gabriel had already done, but my “helps” were to make those dreams come true.
I searched every caravan and group of travelers along the road to Bethlehem for miles for the couple whom I must help, but they were not there. I grew frantic, “How could I have missed them?”
I must have passed them several times, thinking they were nobodies, and to this world, they were. But when I slowed down and listened to their conversation, I knew they were the Chosen.
Their poverty could not only be seen in their thread-bare cloaks and tunics, but that they walked alone, yet safe. Only one who had nothing, could walk that safe.
They struggled to complete their journey to Bethlehem. 
The woman was great with child.
They stopped frequently to rest.
I thought, “This cannot be! If the fallen angels can place hindrances in men’s path, surely I, a servant of the Most High, can bring them a donkey!
Fore according to Micah the prophet, the Redeemer must come from Bethlehem (Micah 5:1-5). And this couple mustmake it there before the Babe was born.

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I glanced behind them for any ideas.
One lone merchant was making his way towards them.
As the merchant approached the couple, it looked like he would pass without even noticing them.
I must do something. 
I sent a great pain to the woman. I was sorry for the pain, but what else could I do? 
She cried out and held her baby protectively. 
The woman’s companion helped her kneel to rest. He was too preoccupied with her needs to notice the merchant. 

The merchant startled by her outburst, slowed and glanced over. He commanded his servant, “Transfer the load from that donkey, and give it to them.”
The servant’s eyes widened, but he obeyed.
The servant brought the donkey to the man. 

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He tore his gaze from the woman and noticed the merchant. His look of panic and concern told much. He stood, taking the reins put in his hand. “I have no payment. . .”
The merchant shrugged. “You are going to Bethlehem, right?”
At the man’s nod, he said, “Pshaw, find me in the market place and return it there.”
The merchant didn’t wait for an answer but hurried on.

The man studied the rope in his hand.
The woman’s words brought him back to her needs. “Joseph, the Lord has blessed.”
He looked at the retreating merchant. “Indeed.”

With the donkey, they made faster progress and were soon at Bethlehem’s gates.
But getting to Bethlehem seemed easier than gettinginBethlehem.
The gate was open, but crowded with people. 
Caesar Augustus, who had declared this tax requiring all these travelers, hadn’t thought about how the city would accommodate all the people who must come, not like the true King that I serve! (Shake head)

I couldn’t help but compare this city with the one God had come from.
I had been created when the heavens where created.
I sang and worshipped with the other angels when God made the world—perfect, complete, whole andverygood. 
I watched Satan and those with him be cast from heaven after their disobedience.
I remained with those who had chosen to worship God alone. Who else was worthy?
Most of my tasks involved working in heaven. I enjoyed those.
But for this task, God had sent me to earth.

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When I first entered the earth’s atmosphere, I was slowed by time. I had only one moment given at a time. I was use to the endless ticking of a heavenly clock where time just wasn’t. Past blended into present and was now. Difficult to explain, more difficult to understand. I paused for a moment, just to catch my breath.

When I reached earth, I could relate to Paul when he said, “the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now”(Romans 8:22).
For there was much changed from the “very good” of creation.
Man brought sin by his disobedience. That sin multiplied destructions. 
It choked me as I entered earth’s atmosphere. 
As I got closer to the people, I wondered how our Holy God would survive here?

In heaven, man passes into eternity, where space no longer restricts. Space—being bound by width, length and height, makes me claustrophobic. Perhaps that’s why God never sent me on an errand to earth before. But here I am, and confined I dofeel, especially before this gate of Bethlehem with all its people.

We may talk of a wall of the city in heaven, but it does not keep people in. In heaven, their bodies passthroughthe walls. The walls are transparent like glass with flecks of reds, oranges, browns, and yellows that catch the light and magnify its brilliance. Almost like a stained-glass window, but really nothing like it. Some who specialize in gems here on earth call it jasper.
Just describing the wall with earthly words is impossible, as such words don’t exist. It’s beyond comprehension. 
Maybe I’ll do better with heaven’s foundation stones. 
The heavenly city is laid with every kind of precious stone: jasper, sapphire, emerald, topaz, amethyst—twelve different kinds, one for each of Israel’s tribes. All with unique qualities that reflect the light differently.
Our God does have a special task for each one of us. And we must allow His light to shine through us.
Paul would later say of the city, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him”(1 Corinthians 2:9).
Heaven is beyond comprehension!

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And the gates—not like these earthly gates of solid wood that man prides himself in. I can’t describe its splendor. But one of heaven’s gates are a single pearl. 
All this and you haven’t even entered the city yet! (REVELATION 21)

Bethlehem’s walls were of stone, hewed from a nearby hillside—functional but ugly. Its commonness didn’t foretell of any grandeur inside. I wrapped my cloak tighter around me to prepare me for what was inside the city.
Even with that warning, I was not ready for what I would find.
As I stepped through the gate, I was hit by the stench from all this humanity!
Water was a precious commodity, and perhaps soap was even sparser. For the smells of the crowds could have upset any nose.
They were mixed with livestock as all bottlenecked through the gate, milling around to find where they needed to go.
I could no longer bring to mind the smells of heaven—delicate, light blossoms bringing their promise of the fruit to come. Ahhh. (Shake head.)

Stepping inside Bethlehem’s gates, I almost tripped. The streets were cobblestone, with a rut down the center where refuge collected.
Even as I spoke, I had to dodge slop an innkeeper threw out his door.
Bethlehem’s streets were a far cry from the streets where I had left. I would choose heaven’s streets of gold—transparent, like glass, reflecting the lights over these.

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Speaking of lights, these streets were dismal, not only by its refuge and smell, but the darkness!
The only light present were those escaping from windows along the street. 
The darkness held a presence that made me hover the couple I had come to help.

What a contrast to the heavenlies where God lived! There was no darkness, not even night. The lights were bright, but not so they’d hurt your eyes. It was a pleasant sort of light, that caused no squinting or eye strain.
Come to think of it, we had no candles or torches in heaven. We needed none. 
God radiated a light from Himself. And that was enough.

I stubbed my toe against the uneven cobblestone again. It brought my thoughts back to earth.
How was I supposed to find a place for the Son of God to be born?
I sighed. This was harder than I had expected.
The man, whose name I heard whispered on her lips was “Joseph.” He also felt the burden. His shoulders hunched forward as he pushed his way through the crowds. 
I was tempted to take the form of a large man and walk in front of him, but there are things only a man must do. 
The woman, bless her heart, dealt with her discomfort as quietly as she could as Joseph persisted in asking for somewhere to stay.
But after he tried inn after inn and found no room, I became angry. Didn’t they see that God, their own Creator, was in their midst? Couldn’t anyone make room for Him?

All this noise was making it hard for me to think! This noise—animals braying, crowds jostling against one another, warning shouts from a king’s horseman pushing his way through the people—seemed loud and troubled.

The couple came away from the congested, noisy part of town.
The noise settled to only scurrying creatures in the dark shadows, and an occasional shout from an overzealous drinker.
The noises made me feel unsafe, like I must guard my back, even though no one could see me.

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Before earth was even made, only the heavens and me, with all the other angels, I looked toward that empty, dark, pit where God would, in a few days, put earth. The quietness was eerie, almost disheartening. I had swallowed, thinking nothing could bring good to that hole. I turned back to God’s throne to sing. Glad that the emptiness and quietness would not be before His throne.
The sounds around God’s throne—ahhhh, what music! I can’t call it noise, because noise seems random, disorganized and offensive—the sounds where God lived was anything but that! 
It seemed anytime I opened my mouth (I know spirits don’t have mouths, but for the sake of understanding), I could do nothing but praise Him.
My songs would blend with the songs of thousands upon thousands of worshippers—cherubim, seraphim and other angels.
We sang a song that had no end, worshipping The One Who made it all.

Not like one of those ditties that men sing that continue way past time for it to stop! 
The rhythm lifted you up into heaven, even if you weren’t already there.
The notes blended in such harmony that no one part could be singled out as special.
The words gave glory and praise and honor to our God, Who is worthyof all praise.
When the Apostle Paul was caught up in a vision, he described the music as “inexpressible words which a man is not permitted to speak” (2 Corinthians 12:4).
I forget myself now as I think of it.

But God had not forgotten that empty, dark pit. He turned to that emptiness to make earth. When He finished, earth was no longer empty or quiet. Even the ground and their very stones sang His praise! What worship!
And we, all the angels, added our voices to it.
But when man’s sin entered, earth’s song stopped, almost like the enemy had shut their mouths for a time.
In place of worship, His earth made noise.

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Which brings me back to earth by the noise of one lone stringed instrument. The strings were loose and sorely need to be tightened to bring them into some sense of “rightness,” but the player didn’t seem to realize it.
Even their music down here resonated with discord. I shook my head.
But I remembered King David’s harp. That king played to worship.
And the tambourines, cymbals and horns Israel used to call their people to worship and battle—Ahhhh. sweet music.
Not this hopeless wailing of a depressed soul! 

Ah, well, there is nothing like the music in heaven.
And it has no end.
Nor should it, for it tells of God’s glory, the One Who came for man.

Which brings my focus back to earth. With a sigh.

Ah, noise down here, leaves an angel like me depressed, if I was allowed to get depressed. 
I do notice that Joseph is weary of all this and Mary is tired.

I must intervene and find somewhere for them to rest for the night.
The back door of an inn opens. A bone is tossed out the door. “That’s all I have for you. Eat it and be gone.”
A dog grabs the bone in midair and slinks away.
The one with charity must be the innkeeper’s wife. She watches the dog until it is gone.
I step forward and become “human-like,” before she can shut the door against the night. “Excuse me.”
She looks up.
Her face looked tired, not just from the burden of today, but of a lifetime. But she has a kind look, evidenced by the grateful dog that just left. Her shoulders drop with another request. But she waits to hear it.
“Do you have any room?” I gestured to Joseph and Mary huddled in the shadows of the street. They had already been denied at the front entrance.
The woman hesitated. 
I’m sorry, but I must give her another pain.
Mary cries out at the sharpness.
I cringe.
The woman turned to me. “She’s with child?”
I wanted to tell her “with the Child from God,” but I just nod.
She peered into the darkness for a better look, tsking as she did. I wasn’t sure whether her answer was for me or herself. “I could no more send this dog away without a bone, than this child who has a child.” She bowed her head to think. “Wait here.”
I could wait. What was time to me? 

She looked back into the inn. The noise of the tuneless, stringed instrument drifted out, along with laughter and loud voices. She shook her head, stepped outside and shut the door. Immediately the quietness seemed to still my angel’s nerves.
She motioned for the couple to follow her to the stables behind the inn.
She pointed to an empty stall, clean, with fresh straw. “You’ll be warm and dry here. I have nothing else.” She looked over her shoulder at Mary and shook her head. 

As she started to leave, Joseph stepped forward, fumbling in his cloak’s pocket for some change.
She shook her head. “No need, unless you’re going to eatthe straw, then my master will be angry he lost the potential sale.”
Joseph dropped his offered hand and bowed, “Shalome.”
She muttered, “Peace doesn’t come here very often, but I hope you find it.”
With that she returned to the back door. Its light from the inn temporarily lit the area then when she closed the door, the darkness covered them.
Joseph helped Mary off the donkey, threw his cloak over the straw and made a bed for Mary to rest. And deliver the Son of God.

This was the city that God came to.
This was the home that the God of the universe was given.
This was the reception that welcomed Him.

I was angry. How could these people not see Who had come?
Why would God, the Creator of the universe, willingly choose this degradation?
John said it well, “[God] became flesh and dwelt among us. And we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth”(John 1:14).

I later helped the shepherds, lowly and poor like this couple, find them.
They bowed before this wee Baby and proclaimed him Lord and Savior. 
I saw a glimpse of what God had in mind when He sent His Only Son intothe world forthe world.
My singing and praise gave Him worship.
But God longed for that special relationshipHe had with manbeforeman sinned.
Now with His Son, He would prepare the only way for man to enter His presence again.

Paul described it, “He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8).

In other words, the God of the universe bound Himself inside His creation (man’s skin) to make a way to bring man home.
I would later see, that cross on which His Son died, made it possible for man to be made right with God. 
His Son calls for all who would accept His gift.
And now, although I’m not in time, I still can’t wait until“God highly exalts [Christ] and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”(Philippians 2:9-11).

You may have never read about my part in the story of God’s Son coming to earth, because it’s really nothing.
But I want you to remember the One Who came for you that first Christmas.
God came to bring you life, hope, peace, and heaven.

You see, in heaven there will be no more tears, no more sorrow, no more sin.
That’s what heaven is like.
God, being holy, cannot allow sin to come into His Presence.
But through the cross, His Son paid for all sin, if you but accept it.

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That allows you to enter heaven.
If that weren’t enough, there one more thing.
All those things about heaven wouldn’t be worth anything, if God wasn’t there.
But Godisthere.
He longs for that relationship with you that will make you complete.
God seeks to fill the void in your heart that longs for that eternity with Him, both now and forever.
He’s waiting for you.
And that’s why Heaven came down that first Christmas.

I write about what matters...to you---
women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
I write about what's hard, what helps and what heals.
I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
I write about what matters...to Him.
               Sonya Contreras

Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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