Unification News for December 1996


Ahmed's First Christmas

by Catherine Ladolcetta-Irvington, AL

This is the third in a three-part serialization.

"It is the night of the dear Savior's birth..." sang the choir of angels as the house lights dimmed and the Christmas play began. The two-story brick building the Terry Blount family had restored was beautifully decorated with yards and yards of colorful paper chains and garlands of red, white and pink paper poinsettias-all made by the children at Top Garden School. The aroma of homemade cookies filled the air. The children had been baking cookies on Saturday for several weeks in preparation for this night.

As the stage lights grew brighter, the simple stable became visible with its warm colors and painted animals. In the center was the manger with the tiny baby Jesus lying in it. At his head stood Joseph in a turquoise robe and a yellow and white striped head cloth.

Joseph's black eyes and hair were accented by a touch of black beard carefully wiped onto his chin and cheeks. On his feet were authentic Arabian sandals, sent by his aunt just for the play. He was restless and looked out into the crowded room. He suddenly realized he was searching for his mother and he had to swallow hard to keep back his tears.

"She would love this," he thought. She had always come to his school for programs. He closed his eyes and saw her smiling face. Perhaps she was here somehow. Mihee had told him that people in spirit world weren't really so far away. Maybe she would be able to see the play after all. He smiled a little and watched the Wise Men walking slowly on stage as the choir began to sing "We Three Kings." The King who was leading pointed at the star above the stable and gestured to his two friends to hurry. The shepherds came behind them and knelt down.

As Ahmed watched, Nivena, wearing a long white dress of Waheba's, with cardboard wings covered in gold cloth tied to her shoulders and a gold tinsel halo resting in her black, wavy hair, climbed up three steps onto a box buried in white fluffy stuff to look like a cloud.

Nivena began the ancient proclamation in her loud, childish voice, "Behold..."; then a funny look came over her face; she squinched her round black eyes up tight and pursed her mouth.

"Oh, no," thought Ahmed, "she has forgotten what she is to say!"

As suddenly as she had stopped, Nivena began again, "Behold, a good thing has happened to us all! Jesus is born! He is the son of Allah!" Nivena opened her eyes and smiled happily at the audience. Everyone was smiling back at her and a soft chuckling sound filled the room.

Ahmed sighed. The room became quiet again, and the Three Wise Men brought their offerings to the manger. Shimmy, Unja and Mee Young bowed low and, to Ahmed's relief, nothing else went wrong. Ahmed remembered that this was the time when everyone was supposed to hold still so all the parents could take pictures. He looked down at the doll in the manger and saw that Waheba was crying. As he reached out to pat her shoulder, wondering what was wrong with her, she rose to her feet and turned towards the three kneeling Kings.

"You three Kings...I have something to ask you."

Ahmed caught his breath, "What are you doing, Waheba?" he whispered. "This is not part of the story!"

Mee Young stood up and bowed, "What is it, Mary?"

Suddenly, Ahmed realized that the girls had planned this and he whispered, "You'll ruin everything...."

The two girls ignored Ahmed. Waheba bowed low and addressed all three of the Wise Men, "You all know who Jesus is, don't you?" They nodded."

"Oh, no," thought Ahmed, "they're all in on it."

"Joseph and I want you to take Jesus with you."

Ahmed's mouth fell open in surprise.

"We are very poor and we won't be able to take care of him as well as you can. He needs to be educated. He needs lots of good food and he should have beautiful clothes. He is God's son! Will you help us? Will you take him?" Waheba's face was wet with tears. Mee Young was crying, too.

The parents in the audience were buzzing and Miss Claire stood at the side of the stage watching with tears in her eyes. She could only smile and shrug her shoulders at her husband as he looked at her in amazement from behind the video camera he was operating.

Mee Young wiped her eyes on the sleeve of her costume. "Oh, Mary," she sniffed, "I wish we could. But God didn't tell us to." Unja and Shimmy nodded sadly as Mee Young continued, "He only told us to follow the star and give Jesus our gifts. We need a sign from Heavenly Father."

Waheba stood up as straight and tall as she could. "I am your sign. Heavenly Father is speaking through me. He is asking you to take care of his son. Will you do it?"

Ahmed stepped forward, "Yes, we are your sign. We can give him nothing that will qualify him to lead Israel-you can give him everything. You must help Jesus."

Mee Young spoke slowly, turning to the other two Wise Men. "I think they are right; don't you, my friends?"

Shimmy and Unja nodded together and smiled at Waheba, who was still crying softly. "We will take him with us, and you must come, too. We can't be his parents; only you can be that to the son of God." It was Unja who had spoken.

"Come, we must leave right away. I had a dream that we mustn't tell Herod anything about the Christ child," Shimmy said.

Mary and Joseph picked up their baby and tried to wrap him in a small cloth to keep him warm. It was so small that the baby Jesus' feet stuck out. Shimmy took off her royal robe and wrapped it around the baby. Together, they walked off the stage as the lights dimmed and the choir began to sing, "Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem."

Suddenly, in the darkened room, a tremendous thundering of applause burst out and the children on stage turned around in surprise. Their parents and friends were standing up, clapping and whistling, calling out "More, more!" Completely involved in the story as they imagined it, the children had forgotten that they were in a play.

Miss Claire hurried out from the wings and called to the children all to line up. They began to sing "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" and the audience joined in.

As the house lights went up, the cast bowed and ran offstage. Everyone

was laughing and talking so loudly that it was a minute before they noticed the dark-skinned man in a deep blue robe and leather sandals who was hugging Waheba and swinging Nivena around in circles.

"Is that your Dad?" asked Mee Young.

"Yes, and look how happy he is!" said Ahmed, smiling. "I haven't seen him laughing like that in a very long time."

Ahmed walked up to his father and hugged him tightly. "Oh, Father, you look so happy! I'm so glad you could come." Ahmed remembered how much he had wished that his mother could be in the audience. Ahmed smiled. For the first time in many months, he felt that his family was complete again.

"Ahmed, your sister has been telling me about Jesus and that you changed the play. Is this true?"

Ahmed looked up into his father's face. He was so strong and so serious and now, suddenly, the smile was gone again and Ahmed felt a bit worried as he remembered that he had joined in with Waheba and Mee Young in changing the play. "Oh, why did I do that?" he silently asked himself. As he tried to prepare an answer to his father's question, he had a quick memory of the play. He had known that Waheba was right! Jesus should have gone with the Kings. That was the only way he could have grown up ready to do his job as the King of Israel.

"Father, why did you and Mother take a part in the Blessing?"

"Ah, Ahmed, you are evidently thinking hard again!" His father was laughing now, and his big, warm arms encircled Ahmed and hugged him tight.

"We received the Blessing, in part because like you and Waheba, we did not think the son of Allah should be born in a stable."

"Father, Mihee told us that by being Blessed, we took in Jesus and his bride. Do you believe that?" Ahmed looked deeply into his father's eyes.

"Yes, my son. When we learned about the plight of God's son from some travelers who stopped at our home, we both felt that we wanted to open our home to the True Parents. The Blessing gave us an opportunity to do that."

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