Unification News for November 1996
Ahmed's First Christmas
by Catherine Ladolcetta-Irvington, AL
This is the second in a three-part serialization.
The parts in the Christmas play were quickly distributed. Shimmy, Unja and Mee Young would be the Three Wise Men. Nathan, Daniel and Patrick would be shepherds. Mattias agreed to be the Innkeeper. Miss Caren's Kindergarten, Miss Shelley's First Grade and Mr. Wilhelmer's Second Grade would all be in the choir.
"Oh! We forgot Angel of God! Who will be Angel of God?"
Nani stood up and shouted in her high voice, "Nivena can be-she's already an angel!" The children started to laugh and all Miss Claire could do was to join in and write it down.
. . .
"Miss Claire?" Waheba sat again on a wooden bench on the porch at school. It was the first rehearsal for the play and the kids were sitting and talking as they waited to begin.
"What is it, Waheba?" The teacher turned to her curiously. Waheba rarely asked a question, but when she did, it was always interesting.
"Ahmed, Nivena and I do not know the story we are playing. Is it a true story?"
The children turned to look at Waheba, their mouths open in amazement.
"You don't know about Jesus?" asked Elizabeth, her eyes wide with disbelief.
"Aren't you a Blessed child? We all know about Jesus," Jaidam stated in his strong voice.
"No, I don't think we are-what is that?"
Confusion showed on Ahmed's face, too.
"But, your mom and dad were in the Blessing-my mama told me." Daniel's voice was insistent.
"Oh, the big wedding." Waheba sighed in relief, "Yes, they are Blessed, but we were already as we are today. Are you Blessed children? What is that?" Her voice was suddenly anxious.
Mihee spoke up. "Our parents were in the Blessing before we were born, so we are Blessed children."
Waheba looked down at the floor. "Is it better to be Blessed children than not Blessed children?" Her voice showed her fear of being different from these children who were so kind and friendly. Maybe now they would not like them so much.
Mihee was watching her friend's face. "Oh, it's very good, but when you grow up, you can be Blessed and your children will be Blessed children like us."
Waheba nodded. Whatever good this Blessing brought, she and Ahmed and Nivena could share in it when they grew up. They could give it to their own children. She smiled, "Yes, we will be Blessed, too." "Children, who can tell us the story of Jesus?" Miss Claire's heart was bursting with pride over the love and hope the children were giving their new friends.
"Once upon a time..." began Patrick.
"No, not once upon a time-it starts like this," said Mihee. "Nearly two thousand years ago, the Angel of the Lord spoke to a young woman named Mary. He said she would have a baby and he would be called Jesus and he would be the son of God. Mary wasn't even married yet, so she didn't quite believe it, but it happened anyway. She became `great with child,' as the Bible says. And she and Joseph were married."
Ahmed. He had heard of the Bible-the holy book of the Christians-just as the Korean was the holy book of Islam.
Shimmy stood up and said, "When the baby was coming pretty soon, Joseph took her to his hometown-Bethlehem. They had to go there because the Romans wanted to tax all the people they ruled over. He had a little donkey and Mary sat on it sideways and rode to Bethlehem. It must have been pretty bumpy."
Ahmed laughed quietly, "Yes, it was very bumpy. Once, when my teacher took me to the city market place, we rode on donkeys so I could better understand the past of my people."
Waheba looked at him enviously. She had never had a trip like that at school. "Boys are so lucky," she thought to herself.
So Unja raised her hand. She spoke softly. "When they got to Bethlehem, there was no place to stay. There must have been so many people who came back to be taxed."
"But, where did they stay?" Waheba suddenly felt frightened. She could remember Nivena's birth in their beautiful, clean home with a doctor and nurses to help.
"What happened then?" Ahmed's voice was tense. All he knew about Jesus was that he had been killed while he was still a young man.
"Who can continue our story?" asked Miss Claire, looking around the group.
Mattias stood up eagerly. "I can. When they got to one inn, the innkeeper told them: `We're full, but you can sleep in the stable with the animals'."
Waheba drew in her breath and cried out, "But that is not possible-it is so unclean! If he was the son of God, he should have been born in a palace!" Her voice became angry. "What is wrong with those people? Didn't Joseph tell them it was Jesus waiting to be born?"
"Well, in those days, people didn't care about each other as we do now." Mee Young's face was sad. "I always thought it must have been fun to be with the warm, friendly animals, but you're right, Waheba, it's no place for anyone to be born. Especially not Heavenly Father's son."
The children sat silently, thinking. "If he was born now, I'd give him my little bed. Nani had tears in her eyes as she added, "I'd give him my teddy bear blanket, too."
Waheba spoke suddenly. "My father would let them sleep in our house. He always give strangers a place to sleep and food to eat."
Ahmed nodded, thinking of the many strangers who had stayed a few days at his home and then had gone on their way. Some were poor and really needed help, some were business associates from his father's work, and some were missionaries from other countries who even came back to visit. Whoever they were, his parents had always treated them with care and respect. He knew that they believed that all people are children of Allah and so they received each person with that heart.
"Yes," said Ahmed, "we would find room for them if they could just come now."
"But they did already!" Mihee looked at Ahmed. "Your parents did take them in, sort of, when they were Blessed by True Parents."
Waheba and Ahmed looked at each other. "What do you mean?" asked Waheba.
"True parents are the same as Jesus and his wife would have been. So your parents took them into their hearts when they believed True Parents came as the son and daughter of God and got Blessed."
All the children stared at Mihee.
"Then my mommy and daddy did, too!" shouted Patrick.
"Hey, we did, too!"
The children were talking and laughing happily as they realized that in their own families they had done this wonderful thing.
Ahmed and Waheba sat stunned. Did their parents really believe all these things?
"What about Allah?" Ahmed broke in. The children stopped talking and looked at him curiously.
"What about Allah?" he repeated, but more quietly than before. "My parents believe in Allah."
"Who can explain?" asked Miss Claire in a gentle voice.
"Is Allah the God of your church?" It was Brian, a second grader.
"Yes, He is God of everything."
"Then, He is God of our church, too. We call Him Heavenly Father." Brian's voice was matter-of-fact and Waheba could feel he was sincere.
"There is one God?"
"Yes, Ahmed," Miss Claire answered, "and He is the Father of all people on Earth."
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