(Minimal props required. Carry a Policeman’s helmet if you have one – just be careful how you get it! NB - for those of you not familiar with some of our UK colloquialisms, 'the Nick' is the Police Station. Because it's the place people are taken when they get 'nicked', which means 'arrested'!).
Ah Sarge – have you got a moment? I’d just like to talk over this Bethlehem business with you – only I’m not sure I’ve done the right thing ...
Well, it’s all a bit strange. It started of with reports of a disturbance at the Star Inn. Well, as you know, we’ve been run of our feet with all these people in, so it was a while before I could get over there, and when I did, I found the stable yard full of shepherds. Yeah, that’s right, shepherds.
So I had a word, like. Asked them what they were doing down here, and why they’d left their sheep. I thought it might be one of those sheep-rustling things like we had last month. But instead, they came out with this weird story about seeing angels who told them to come to Bethlehem and see a King.
Well, that just confirmed all I’ve ever thought about shepherds. So breathalysed them all, as you do … thing was though, they all came back negative.
Wasn’t sure what to do then, but they’re all telling me that this King is in the stable behind the Inn. Which made no sense at all, of course, so I thought I’d better go and have a look and see what’s up.
The last thing I expected was to find that someone’s been and turned the stable into a maternity ward! I kid you not, Sarge … there’s this couple in there with a young baby, can’t be more than a few hours old, and that’s the honest truth! All wrapped up and put in the animal’s manger, if you can believe it.
So I took some names and asked what was going on. Joseph and Mary, they called themselves, down from Nazareth for this census. And the baby, Jesus, who’d just been born out here in the stable on account of there being no room for them in the Inn.
All right as far as it goes, and I wish they’d left it at that. But then they start telling me that Mary’s the mother, but Joseph’s not the father. And that Mary’s actually a virgin! And that the Baby is, in fact, the promised Messiah, the Son of God, King of the Jews, and Saviour of the World.
That just confirmed all I’ve ever thought about them up in Nazareth … naturally, I breathalysed them both: but turns out they were negative as well.
So I’m scratching my head and wondering if the Landlords been serving something other than drinks. Only there’s no sign of anything like that at all. Instead there’s a feeling like – well, joy, and excitement, but not the rowdy sort. More – ah – peaceful. If you know what I mean.
OK, Sarge, I know it doesn’t make sense. Believe me, I thought about breathalysing myself! Anyhow, I went on questioning this Joseph chappie, to see if I could get any sense out of him. But he stuck to the same story: the lad was the Son of God, miraculously born to a virgin – and he’d talked to an angel himself, who had told him all about it.
Yes, Sarge, that’s what I was thinking. Some sort of dodgy business going on here – a con job of some sort, and they’ve got the shepherds in on it. Before long they’d be putting up posters and charging half-a-shekel a time to come and look at the baby. And selling souvenir stables as well, I shouldn’t wonder.
But I thought I could see the flaw in his story, and I pointed it out. “Right, then, Joseph – if that’s your name – tell me this, then. If this really is the Son of God, King of the Jews, Messiah, Saviour of the World, and so on – what’s he doing in a draughty stable at the back of an Inn in a back of beyond place like Bethlehem. Not going to change the world much from here, is he?”
Well, I thought I’d got him there. But Joseph just looked at me, and smiled, and told me “He’s not going to change the world by telling people what to do, but by telling them that God loves them. And how would they know that if he just appeared in a Palace and sent out orders? He’s come to live as one of us, to show us how much he loves us.”
And actually, Sarge, it sort of made sense, when he put it that way.
I looked at that baby, laying in the animals straw, dirt poor, helpless and vulnerable, and I said “ But – anything could happen to that little lad! If that really is the Messiah – isn’t God taking a bit of risk?”
Joseph nodded. “Yes,” he told me “But how else can you show love, except by taking a risk?”
Sarge, I tell you frankly, I didn’t have a clue what to do for the best. I thought of arresting the Shepherds for unlawful assembly and abandonment of sheep – but they weren’t actually causing any trouble. I might have arrested the Landlord under health & safety, for operating an unlicensed maternity hospital: but the alternative would be that the baby would have been born out on the street somewhere, which would have been worse.
Perhaps I could have arrested Joseph and Mary for fraudulent claims about the kid: but I didn’t actually have any proof. I mean, I know it sounded fantastic – but suppose it was true? Suppose God really did love us enough to come and become one of us? I thought,
if there’s just a chance that they’re right….
I suppose if they are right, and this baby Jesus really is the Son of God, then I could have arrested him for illegal entry into the world, but that’s a bit outside my jurisdiction! And I can’t see it going to court.
So I let them all go.
I hope I did the right thing, Sarge. As I say, it’s all a bit strange, and I’ll keep an eye on them, of course. It may be that we end up having to arrest this Jesus anyway, at sometime – but in the meantime, I’ve saved a mountain of paperwork!
And it felt like the right thing to do as well. After all, it is Christmas. Well, it is now, I suppose.