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A Tale of Three Boxes
Long ago, in a country far away, a great man had three sons, all born together brothers. As his sons came to the age of maturity, the father called them to him.
“Sons,” said he, “I ordain for you a great purpose. It is the time in your lives to grow mighty in wisdom. I have a gift for each of you.”
He motioned to his servants, who entered with the gifts.
Father took the first gift and beckoned the first son to him. “Son, I present you with this box crafted from finest ebony wood.” The first son received the gift, bowed himself, thanked his father, and took his place again.
The father presented a box wrought with intricate gold to his second son, and a fine ceramic box to his third son, each bowing and giving thanks. The sons looked to their father expectantly.
“My sons, you know how proud I am of you. You have grown to be excellent young men, learned in many letters and languages and crafts. It is time for you to go out into the world and receive there the education the gods have for you. Bring with you your boxes. Fill them with the greatest things you find. And,” he added, with a twinkle in his eye, “return to me in one year to tell me of your adventures.”
The sons readied themselves. The day came for each of the sons, with their servants and processions and goods, to go their separate ways. The father called down prayers from the gods upon the heads of his sons and sent them off.
The father prayed and offered sacrifices to his gods for the safety and wisdom of his sons for the full year.
At last the time arrived, and all three brothers came to him as one. They fell upon one another with kisses and tears, and a great feast was held.
When the time came, the father called his sons to himself again, to give report of their adventures and of the greatest things they had brought back in their boxes. He called upon his first son to begin.
“Oh, my father! Such miracles as you could not imagine,” began the first son. He looked at his brothers. “We did not understand they were miracles at first, but we were overjoyed as they were heaped upon us. As you know, we three brothers set out in separate groups and in separate directions when we left you that year ago. I had traveled with my procession for no more than some few weeks when, lo, I spied another, larger cortege in the distance. As I drew near them, I could see also other groups converging on this same objective. You cannot imagine my surprise when we three saw and realized it was each of us, coming together to meet these new people!”
The second son continued the tale. “After we had exchanged our surprise to one another at thusly meeting, we set out to inquire the origin and purpose of this company moving west. We were able to ascertain the leaders, and to sit and commune with them.”
“As it happens,” the third son explained, “These wise men from the east – magi – had felt a call to follow that bright star – surely you saw it from home, Father!”
The third son elucidated, “We had each of us wondered when we saw it, thinking mayhap it was a sign from the gods as we set out on our quests. We said so to our new friends, and they agreed with us! When we asked where they thought the star might lead them, they told us they expected to find the King of the Jews. Father, they wanted to worship Him!”
“We remembered,” explained the first son, “in our studies, learning of this peoples and their belief in One God, Jehovah. When we heard of their intent, we discussed among ourselves whether to disband from them or keep on. It was a funny thing,” he mused as he sought his brothers’ eyes, “we knew for a certainty, deeply in our hearts, that we must go with them.”
The sons looked at each other and nodded their agreement.
As the tale unfolded, the brothers learned of the wise men’s gifts for the Christ Child. They had brought with them gold, frankincense, and myrrh. When at last they reached Bethlehem, the brothers were agreed to add their boxes: the gift of gold was placed into the ebony box; frankincense was placed into the gold box; and myrrh was poured into the fine ceramic box. And they found and worshiped the Child King.
After the wise men had received visions to leave Bethlehem on a different route, the brothers elected to stay. They chatted with the locals, heard stories from the shepherds of a heavenly chorus, elucidation from the innkeeper regarding his choice of accommodations for the young family; spoke with Joseph and Mary before they departed with their infant son.
After a time, the brothers and their entourage traveled to Jerusalem, compelled to learn more about this God of Israel. They studied the Scriptures and held discussion with rabbis and leaders.
“And so, Father,” the third son concluded. “We have come to know and believe that the God of Israel is the one true God, and there is no other. He has provided a way of salvation to us, and it is through this child, this King of the Jews whom we met and saw with our own eyes. We filled ourselves instead of our boxes with the greatest things, and we brought this infinitely precious gift home to you.”
To be continued…