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ALIVE

ALIVE is a book presented as a blog series about human life from its inception. It studies the purpose of life, the philosophy of life, and the difference between physical life and spiritual life. The book does this by delving into the relationship between humankind and its invisible but highly active and involved Creator.

Based on Biblical narrative ALIVE enters major events and fleshes them out. In so doing ALIVE makes discoveries about the origins and evolution of human life.

ALIVE combines imagination and scriptual accuracy to develop the themes of what it means to be much more than physically ALIVE. Although imaginative, ALIVE never contradicts Scripture. Enjoy and learn.

The Bride's Year

This is a series of posts that make up a story describing the Year of The Church. The Church is The Bride of Christ who will be married to Him at The Wedding Feast of the Lamb as described in the Book of Revelations to John. The Wedding of Jesus Christ with the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church occurs after the destruction of this old earth and the inauguration of the new earth, also known as The Land of Immortality. 

It is a tale of a cynical little angel that God sent to earth to learn about the mystical year of synchronic time and about His Betrothed.

My writing offers readers a fresh way of looking at and learning about orthodox Christianity.

The style is intended to help the mind and heart overcome old prejudices and awaken them to the Truth of God’s plan for the human-gods that were created in His image and likeness.

 

About the Blog

This blog is for those who take the line in the Nicene Creed seriously that says, “I await the resurrection of the dead and the life of the ages to come.” That is the life immortal into which Jesus Christ will someday usher renewed humans. For centuries these people have been called Christians, and they are still called Christians, but since Christianity has become such a broad term and Christ said that the gate into immortal life is narrow and difficult to squeeze through, then perhaps those few serious people would be better identified as “Aspiring Immortals”.

 

This blog is a journal of just such an Aspiring Immortal. Through stories, poems, and journal entries I teach orthodox Christianity. I am not a religious rebel, instead I’d rather identify with GK Chesterton, CS Lewis, and my favorite Saints such as Francis of Assisi, Chrysostom, and Climacus whose vision and creativity have guided so many aspiring immortals through this earthly life.

 

A companion to this blog is my book entitled “The Immortal Life (TIL).” TIL teaches orthodox Christianity to those who want to know the reason for life and death, good and evil. TIL explains it all from the fall of mankind to the annihilation of this planet with a refreshing contemporary voice that is at times even funny.

 

We all work very hard to improve life on this planet for ourselves and for each other. And yet there is so much more life has to offer. Aspiring immortals are the salt of this earth and the substance of the next one.

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    Tuesday
    Dec052017

    Is Christmas Absurd?

    Christmas is a big deal, the most important event of the year, of any year, even election years and war years, and wedding years, even though it happens every year.

     

    Christmastime is super-busy. We schedule decorating, gift buying, wrapping and giving, shows, tree decorating, public tree lightings, cooking and baking, Christmas carols and classic movies, family gatherings, office parties, church, and visits; all the energy that we put into the birthday of Jesus shows that Christmastime is a big deal.

     

    If you think it’s too much, then let’s stop for a moment to consider whether all this hoopla is really too little.

     

    Everyone knows the story. In Year 1, a Jewish girl named Mary was chosen by God to become His mother so He, God, could have a body. Jesus was born to be a perfect human to emulate, even His healing power, even how he reacted to those who hated Him, even the other miracles which demonstrated His dominion over nature. He showed people and told them how to be like God, so they could ultimately live forever in new bodies on a new earth with God and each other. But first, there was the grand finale; He had to be killed so He could go to Hades and release the souls of the dead. He came to reverse the curse of death put on Adam and Eve and through them on humanity. Then, to prove that He was successful, He miraculously came back to earth for 40 days before going to be one with God again. Since then, God as the Holy Spirit, resides within baptized believers to prepare them for eternal life, free from sickness, sorrow, and sighing...and our arch enemy, the devil.

     

    Doesn’t that sound like science fiction written by an over-active imagination?

     

    Is Christmastime the season to celebrate an absurd story? Like the story of the king who paraded through town naked on his horse because he thought he was wearing special clothes. To pacify him, the townspeople also pretended that the naked king was clothed. Is Christmastime the season when around the world throughout history people pretend that there is a God who was born in a manger in Bethlehem? Some people pretend to believe better than others, but surely it couldn’t be true, because the story is absurd.

     

    Look around at nature. See how fanciful and creative the world is with its millions of living breathing funny-looking beings and botanical wonders. That this complex creation has no creator is probably more absurd than that there truly is a super intelligent source. The Author of life can also author His own incarnation which is as true as the sunrise, and as mysterious as the petrified forest.

     

    No one has to pretend to play along with the tale of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God incarnate.

     

    God doesn’t want pretenders. Most, if not every true believer has personal experiences that continuously validate their belief.

     

    It’s silly to celebrate an absurd story. But is this story absurd?

     

    Try this.

     

    On Christmas Eve, walk into your neighborhood church service. Close your eyes and ask Jesus to be born in the manger of your heart.

     

    Pay attention. See what happens.

     

    Next year, let me know if you agree that all that we do to celebrate Christmas is probably too little.

     

    Evangeline

     

    PS ALIVE will return in January. Merry Christmas!!!

    Monday
    Nov272017

    Alive: Chapter 59, Death: The Key to Freedom

    Part Three- Finale

    The people solemnly slaughtered their lambs at twilight as instructed. The women wept while preparing for the meal coating their lambs with the herbs, and making unleavened bread.

     

    Children watched in awe as blazing fires settled into red hot coals to roast the lambs slowly and thoroughly. The sweet aroma of the cooking meat and herbs filled all of Goshen with the strong incense of Passover. A smell they will remember all their earthly days as the smell of freedom. This sweet smoke created a dense fog that slowly rose into the heavens carrying with it the thoughts and prayers of the slaves about to be set free.

     

    While the lambs were cooking, doorway after doorway was being painted with deep red blood. The children ran from house to house to watch and the teenage boys asked to help. Fathers handed their sons the hyssop brushes. No one complained, no one questioned. After all that they had been through, each person knew better than to question Moses or his God.

     

    After the ceremony of painting, the menfolk and the children went inside their homes to divided and eat the lamb.

     

    It was time. In Mariam’s house Moses, Sepphora, Gersham, Eliezer, and Aaron with his wife Elisheba, with his sons Nadab, Abihu, Eleazer and Ithamar and Aaron’s daughter in law, and his grandson Putiel were gathered. With all eyes focused on the lamb, they prayed. “Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha'olam. Blessed are you, Lord, our God, sovereign of the universe great and powerful God who hath brought us to this king of moments in all of history, God of life, be with us and guide us through this awful night.” There was nothing more to say. In silence Moses carved the lamb in equal parts to the number of people in the family and passed the platter for each person to take his or her piece of the one lamb that united them with each other. Everyone looked at their meat with thoughts of the lamb who just that morning had been frolicking in the pasture. He alone represented their corporate frailty.  The lamb was their refuge. There was to be no leftovers, they ate quickly, with sandals on their feet, ready to run. After the lamb had been completely consumed, when it had gone from the platter into each man, woman, and child’s body to nourish and sustain them for the journey ahead, one by one family members fell exhausted.

     

    Gersham was first to ask, “Mother, I am so tired, may I go to rest now?”

     

    Aaron and Nadab followed, the three first-born men of the family subconsciously felt a great weight on their hearts in sympathy, in grief, in relief that for a reason that no man comprehended, they were going to be spared. That blood was to save him specifically. These three men craved the relief of a deep slumber.

     

    In ones and twos the rest of the family went to their beds to rest. Bellies full and satisfied, hearts sad, minds afraid and excited about the journey ahead.

     

    A feeling of awe and reverence swept through every home in Goshen. Whoever was not ready to leave Egypt was getting ready now. A few, mostly infants and small children, managed to fall into a deep restful sleep. Most of the family member sat or laid in their beds hugging each other and praying with their thoughts in the still darkness.

     

    As forewarned, at midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the prisoner in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock.

     

    Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his officials and all the Egyptians; and there was a loud cry in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.

     

    The sound of women and men wailing could be heard throughout the land. Everyone who was asleep woke up. The cries, the shrieks of mother’s, of wives, of brothers and sisters collided to fill the air as loud sirens. Every Egyptian was alarmed that so many could die so suddenly. It didn’t take the Egyptians long to realize that each family had lost its first-born son. First born fathers died too leaving their wives and children bereft of support. Shepherds noticed that the first born of the livestock had fallen too. This was no accident, no coincidence. It was mysterious to the ignorant Egyptians, but it was a mystery no one had the energy to contemplate. So strong was their grief.

     

    Pharaoh ran into his son’s room only to see his lifeless body completely drained of all joy and sorrow, of love, and of hopes and fears. There was nothing but a shell of the young man he had poured all his dreams into. With his royal head resting on his son’s still and silent chest Pharaoh saw his dynasty crumble. His heir was dead. Pharaoh walked out of the room of death and went to sit on his throne.

     

    Gracefeld never felt so sorry, so guilty knowing that the bitter grief of Pharaoh was due to the stubborn thoughts that he had planted in Pharaoh’s mind. Gracefeld wondered how this story would have played out if Pharaoh had been allowed to decide for himself how to respond to all the calamities. But then, these musings were too high for Gracefeld, who had learned to trust and not question God long ago.

     

    In his grief, remembering their warning, Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron in the night.

     

    Moses and Aaron, along with almost everyone else in Mariam’s home, were awaken from their deep sleep by the loud harsh knock on their door. Mariam who was still cleaning up after the meal opened the door to see the messenger. She called her brothers to wake up and go to Pharaoh.

     

    Moses and Aaron walked out through the blood-stained lintel to follow the messenger back to the palace. While he was walking Moses contemplated how long he had known that this would happen. From the time he first set out from Jethro’s home, which seemed a lifetime ago, God had told Moses about the deaths of the first born. Before all the marvels, Moses knew that it would culminate in this tragedy. And yet, he was not prepared for how he would feel on this deadly night.

     

    The grief drenched air was so thick with heartbreak that Moses had to wade through it as if he was wading through an ocean of tears in a strong undertow. It was impossible to walk quickly. Every doorway they passed spewed anguish.

     

    As he walked Aaron was reminded of his youth when another Pharaoh had the infant boys drowned in the Nile and how grief-struck his own aunts had been. Perhaps it was to avenge this killing that God’s first act was to bloody the Nile. It was the blood of hundreds of Hebrew infants that spoiled the Nile. He had never realized that before. Aaron had long forgotten those day of anguish, until now. Had their God chosen this genocide as retribution? Aaron was not as sensitive to the cries surrounding him, so absorbed had he been in the memory of the infanticide he had escaped. But, didn’t the murder of the boys also cause Moses to be brought up in the palace and make him particularly well suited for this day? At that point Aaron stumbled on a rock and quickly shifted his feet to keep from falling. Upon his quick recovery he lost all track of his mental exploration.

     

    When they finally arrived in the throne room the brothers found a depleted Pharaoh sitting dejectedly on his throne. In barely audible words Pharaoh simply said, “Rise up, go away from my people, both you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord, as you said. Take your flocks and your herds, as you said, and be gone.”

     

    Just as Moses and Aaron turned to go, Pharaoh added, as if reaching for a life line “And bring a blessing on me too!” 

    Sunday
    Nov192017

    Alive: Chapter 59, Death: The Key to Freedom

    Part Two

     

    This chapter, being the climax of the event, had to be very long, which isn’t practical to post, therefore I have split it into three sections. When the book comes out, that won’t happen, but for now I ask for the indulgence of the reader, promising to post the final part of this chapter next Sunday.

     

    God continued speaking to Moses, slightly annoyed by the distraction of Perambula’s loud thoughts, He continued, “then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two door posts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.

     

    They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs and inner organs. You shall let none of it remain until morning; anything that remains until morning you shall burn. This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the Passover of the Lord.”

     

    Hearing this, Perambula suddenly understood the meaning of it all. The blood of the unblemished lamb will save them from the grief and pain of death. As with Isaac, the lamb replaced the firstborn son. Now the sons of Jacob too will be rescued by the sacrificial lambs. Abraham’s faith will be rewarded once again. The covenant will be sealed anew.

     

    The lamb’s death, in return for their life. The lamb’s death was the key to their freedom. This lamb, cut up and shared equally would work its way through their bodies to cleanse them from within, and prepare them and qualify them to be free from slavery forever. Once again, Perambula was amazed by God’s plan. He thought of everything!

     

    “For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every first born in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”

     

    Moses listened intently to the instructions. He neither commented, nor allowed himself to fret as Perambula did, nor to question them. Moses was not nervous, but rather in a state of heightened anticipation after a very long drawn out effort, like a war or campaign whose culmination was near. It had been a very long time since Moses first encountered God in the burning bush. A very long time; much had happened, and all to lead up to this moment when the key to release the prisoners would be gently placed in the ancient lock, and turned.

     

    “Oh Egypt,” thought Moses, “how much like a mother’s womb you have been to our people Israel. Within your walls we found protection and nourishment; we were formed in here and grew. Now mother-Egypt must expel us. Without desire or permission, Egypt will go through birth pains as a woman in labor, shrieks in agony before the moment of relief when her womb will be evacuated with a violent birth.”

     

    Moses solemnly called all the elders of Israel who gathered quickly to receive their instructions, and said to them, “Go, select lambs for your families, and slaughter the Passover lamb.

     

    Take bunches of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood in their basin. None of you shall go outside the door of your house until morning. For the Lord will pass through to strike down the Egyptians, when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over that door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your house to strike you down.”

     

    The elders listened intently. They sensed the intensity of the moment. No one murmured or questioned Moses. Perambula wafted through the Israelites like a sheepdog gathering the elders at the foot of the holy hill where Moses could be easily seen and heard. Then the angel went over to Moses and whispered in his heart to add the most important, enduring aspect of the cataclysmic event, that it should be remembered, re-enacted, and respected by every generation, until the end of days, or else it would be meaningless. Or else all that had happened to destroy Egypt for the sake of Israel, for the sake of its freedom from slavery, but much more than that, to create from Israel a unique nation among all nations in all of time. It wasn’t enough for God to create Adam and Eve in His image and likeness. He wanted a nation, a society within which to make Himself known. God wanted a family, Abraham’s family.  He first had to extract this family from the womb where He planted it, to extract it in a violent painful way, like a long and arduous labor that would be so intense that it would form the essence of the family lore.

     

    “You shall observe this rite as a perpetual ordinance for you and for your children. When you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as He promised, you shall keep this observance. And when your children ask you, ‘What do you mean by this observance?’ You shall say, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, for He passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt, when He struck down the Egyptians but spared our houses.’”

     

    Hearing this, the elders lowered their heads in awe and humility. The youngest elders fell to their knees, some fell into a fetal position with their faces hidden between their legs, and worshipped. After several moments of silence when each man listened to Perambula’s wordless reverence placed in his heart, the elders, filled with awe and humility quietly disbanded, each man walked with fear and reverence in his heart to relay to his people the instructions that it was time to slaughter their lambs and paint the entrance of their homes with its blood, before eating it.

     

    Tuesday
    Nov142017

    Alive: Chapter 59, Death, The Key to Freedom

    Part One

    This chapter, being the climax of the event, had to be very long, which isn’t practical to post, therefore I have split it into three sections. When the book comes out, that won’t happen, but for now I ask for the indulgence of the reader, promising to post the subsequent part shortly.

    Goshen was abuzz. Every man, woman and child sensed that the time was near when they would leave Egypt together. Surely there was nothing else God could do to ravage Egypt any more. The land was a virtual disaster area after the hail, locusts, frogs and everything. Everyone, except Pharaoh was exhausted. They had long forgotten what a normal day was.

     

    No one, neither Hebrew nor Egyptian could imagine Egypt without its Israelites. So entwined were the two cultures for centuries. Egypt had been the refuge of the Israelites, then when their Joseph managed the country with such skill it was their pride, before it was their prison.

     

    They ate the same food, their children played together, they even shared idols. This God who suddenly came to make himself so obvious to them and to call them out of Egypt into a land of their own was a mystery to everyone, save Moses.

     

    Had they asked for all of this commotion, this devastation of their land, when they simply prayed for relief from the tyranny of Pharaoh?

     

    God hardened Pharaoh’s heart to let Israel know of His power and their uniqueness as a people. He remembered His covenant with Abraham. Generation upon generation after the attempted sacrifice of Isaac, buried the stories of Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel with days of harsh toil.

     

    This Egypt was surely not the Promise Land. Not this place where they had to ask permission to worship, but the other part of the covenant was coming true, the part that promised Abraham that he would become the father of a multitude, that he would have more children than the stars in the sky, from one son, Isaac, born in his old age; that part was coming true. That the population of Israel had exploded could not be disputed. For every Egyptian baby born, there were several Hebrew births. The women were fertile, and the babies were strong. Since that prediction was coming true, perhaps there was a Promise Land as well.

     

    What would life be like without the chains and handcuffs of Pharaoh to order their waking days? They would have to wait and see. This God, whether by His sovereign Will alone, or in answer to their prayers had woken up. He came determined to destroy Egypt for their sake.

     

    Word had trickled out in Goshen that the first born of the Egyptians, both human and animal, from the son of Pharaoh, to the son of the prisoner and all livestock that broke the womb would die. Those who knew were not quick to spread the word, so terrified were they. Those who knew clutched their first-born and wondered how it was that they could be spared. Every Israelite knew that although they lived in Egypt for over four centuries, they had been set apart in Goshen. Although the Egyptians were slaves of Pharaoh too, the Israelites had been treated much more harshly. Can centuries of ill treatment be offset by a few months of bizarre favor?

     

    On this particularly bright morning Perambula was more fidgety than usual. The angel had received some strange news and didn’t want to challenge God (again) and didn’t want to hold it in. The perplexed angel flew over to the palace to find  Gracefeld.

     

    “Gracefeld, have you heard what is going to happen next?!”

     

     “Yes, of course.” replied Gracefeld with an air of superiority and calmness. “I suppose you mean that the angel of death is coming to take all of the first born. Thankfully, we don’t have to do that. Messy job. Disgraceful.”

     

     “Yes, but no!”cried Perambula. “I mean the sacrifice of the lambs! The Lord will tell Moses that each family is to sacrifice a lamb, right here...in Goshen! I mean how can this be?! Wasn’t it that they had to leave on a three day journey simply because this animal sacrifice would be so repugnant to the Egyptians, and now, He will have them do this right here where they live! I am so confused!”

     

    “Calm down Perambula!”ordered Gracefeld. “Yes, I admit that this is a switch, but the Lord requires it for a very good reason. Besides, Pharaoh asked for it, ummm thanks to me! He wouldn’t let them go into the wilderness, so they would just have to do it right here under their noses. Pharaoh and all of the Egyptians too will see for themselves the power and meaning of the animal sacrifice.”

     

    Gracefeld had a wonderful way of calming Perambula, which is why the Lord often paired them up on missions.

     

    Gracefeld added, “Do you know which angel of death is coming?”

     

    “No, and I don’t think it matters. I must be getting back for the announcement. Thank you.”

     

    “I heard that we will be getting reinforcements for the Exodus!” shouted Gracefeld as Perambula drifted away. At that, Perambula merely smiled and didn’t reply.

     

    When Perambula glided into Goshen, the meeting had begun. Perambula heard God speak to Moses and Aaron, “This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbor in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it.

     

    Perambula wondered why Moses did not seem at all surprised by the request for a massive animal sacrifice that was to take place, not in the wilderness away from the delicate sensibilities of the Egyptians, but right here in the city limits of Goshen! But then again, Moses was in no position to challenge God again since the beginning when he tried to turn down the assignment and was given his brother as assistant.

     

    God ignored Perambula’s loud and useless thoughts as He continued with His instructions. “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month;”

     

    Hearing this reminded Perambula of the sacrifice of Isaac. Keeping the sacrificial animal for four days, assumed Perambula, was to make them familiar with the animal. This sacrificial lamb was to be no anonymous piece of meat, but rather more like a pet whose every feature had been first inspected for its perfection and admired. For four days and three nights the family looked upon this perfect animal that they knew they would slaughter. In the eating of this lamb, each person might remember a moment of connection, when the animal was stroked, or when a glance into its eyes created a spark of sorrow. The thought of this saddened Perambula. To the angel it was as if Isaac had been slaughtered after all, and not the stranger-ram the Lord provided. To Perambula, it was as if each Hebrew family was required to slaughter their Isaac to join in the covenant with God before being saved from genocide ahead. 

     

     

    Friday
    Oct202017

    ALIVE: Chapter 58, Darkness

     

    Pharaoh tossed and turned all night. It was getting harder and harder to be the strong decisive leader his father had taught him to be. He was in agony. He didn’t want to fall asleep because every night plagued him with horrendous nightmares, dreams of frustration. The sleep state found him lost and desperate to find his way, or being chased by wild animals and not able to hide, or falling off a precipice. He was afraid of where his mind would take him, and yet his waking hours were just as horrendous. His idiotic magicians proved useless. From his birth Thutmose had always gotten his way. Anything his heart desired had only to be named and it came to him within hours, the tastiest food, the most beautiful women, the best performers of music and dance. He remembered the day that he was told that his father died and he was crowned Pharaoh as the most thrilling day of his life. Then, when his first born son was presented to him. Oh joy; what magician conjured that up! A miniature version of himself with a touch of his father and of his mother all rolled into one sweet smelling bundle of emotions. The baby smiled and gurgled so much; how he often wondered what was making this child so joyful.

     

    Could it be that if only he would release the Israelites to go into the wilderness to pray, then their god would be pleased and restore his kingdom and his peace of mind? Thutmose could not understand why he vacillated so, and why he was being so stubborn? Why did Moses only ask for permission to go away to pray, when they both knew full well that once gone, they would never return? Why did Moses repeatedly expect him to believe the lie that they would return? He might as well have asked for permanent release. Did that false brother of his think him a fool? He should just let them go and be rid of the whole lot!

     

    NO NO NO, what demon placed that thought in his mind? Absolutely not. He would not be bullied by that god of theirs. Pharaoh admitted that he showed his weakness too often when he asked Moses for prayer and offered to let them go. He really had to stop that. He must win. He must show himself strong and decisive. If only he could get a good night’s sleep, everything would be better. He needed a sleeping potion. He would try one more time to clear his mind of thoughts and focus on resting his every muscle from his royal toes up through his body until he reached his mind, the summit of his being and even there he must be in control enough to sweep away any thought that displeased him. Pharaoh craved rest, to fall into the warm soothing waters of oblivion. 

     

    Meanwhile, back on the hill, the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven so that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness that can be felt.”

     

    Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was dense darkness in all the land of Egypt.

     

    Pharaoh stayed in his bedroom and tried to sleep as long as he could. His man servant entered holding a candle and said, “Sire, how long shall this darkness last? The people have stopped working. The cows have stopped giving milk. The roosters won’t crow. The people want to know when the light will return. What shall I tell them?”

     

    “How should I know!” shouted Pharaoh. “Tell them that the light will return when they have pleased their gods. Tell them that I proclaim a holiday and that they need not report to work until the darkness is lifted. Tell them to pray to the gods that their rest is deep and restorative. Now GO and leave me be!”

     

    “I have one more message Sire.” added the daring messenger.

     

    “What is it peon?” replied Pharaoh nastily.

     

    “I am told that Gotham is bathed in light. They have no darkness there.”

     

    “How can that be?” replied Pharaoh incredulously.

     

    “We don’t know.”

     

    “Then they should be working! Order the slaves of Goshen to clean their streets and their fields. I will send inspectors in three days and expect to see Goshen spotless! And while you are there order Moses to return to me. Now please leave me!”

     

    The messenger walked out after kissing the hand of Pharaoh and bowing low. His first stop was to the municipal room to tell the officials about the holiday.  They chuckled at the news. 

     

    Then the messenger turned to start his trek to Goshen to give them their orders. He had a very difficult time making his way through the streets of Egypt. His candle blew out. The darkness was so dense and pure that he had to walk waving his hands out in front of him and around his sides. No one else was out, which made it easier than it otherwise might have been.

     

    As he approached Goshen he was shocked to see the dull luminous fog that made it much easier to walk. The closer he got to Goshen, the more light. It was amazing, it was dumbfounding. Goshen was filled with light, as opposite as the darkness of the rest of Egypt could be. He looked up at the sky for the sun, but found not the familiar ball. The messenger wondered if the light came from their God. Was He showing Egypt that He was indeed the God of light, and they were people of darkness?

     

    With no task masters showing up for work, with all the merriment he observed, it appeared that they were the ones having the holiday. The messenger went directly to the Town Square and announced the requirement to clean their streets.

     

    Then the messenger walked to the home of Miriam where he found Moses and Aaron eating lunch as if it was a typical day in paradise. He ordered them to return with him to the palace.

     

    Moses didn’t seem to have half the trouble walking back to the palace as the messenger had had wading through the darkness. Either he was being guided by an inner light, or the path was so familiar that Moses could walk it in his sleep.

     

    They arrived to find lit candles everywhere. Pharaoh’s throne room was bathed in jittery candle light.

     

    As soon as he spotted Moses, Pharaoh said, “Go, worship the Lord. Only your flocks and your herds shall remain behind. Even your children may go with you.” Pharaoh felt, that by saying this he was being generous and yet, authoritative enough to demand reasonable limitations. He expected Moses to comply and he looked forward to the end of the standoff. Sitting in darkness, Pharaoh had no clue that the worse was yet to come.

     

    Without hesitation, without compromise, Moses replied, “You must also let us have sacrifices and burnt offerings to sacrifice to the Lord our God. Our livestock also must go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind, for we must choose some of them for the worship of the Lord our God, and we will not know what to use to worship the Lord until we arrive there.”

     

    Pharaoh was angry that Moses wouldn’t take the olive branch that had been so hard for him to offer. This demanding, unyielding, uncompromising opponent would not get the best of him. Pharaoh had no power over the light; he didn’t know the reason for the strange darkness, or when the light would return, but he still had it in his power to keep Israel from leaving, and that would be good enough. Good enough for this meeting. Good enough for this dark day. He would just try to fall asleep again.

     

    Pharaoh turned his stubborn heart inside out and barked, “Get away from me! Take care that you do not see my face again, for on the day that you see my face, you shall die.”

     

    Moses replied, “Just as you say! I will never see your face again.”

     

    Then the brothers departed from the palace for what they figured was the very last time. As they walked through the dark halls into the pitch blackness, they knew not what time of day it should be. All was darkness, all was stillness, like the day before creation, like the day of death. Moses and Aaron walked back to Goshen in silence as they tried to maneuver the streets without stumbling and falling.

     

    They finally spotted the dim yet welcome light of Goshen in the far distance and used it to guide them home quickly. They went straight to their hill and waited, but not for very long.

     

    Moments after they arrived the Lord said to Moses, “I will bring one more plague upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go from here; indeed when he lets you go, he will drive you away. Tell the people that every man is to ask his neighbor and every woman is to ask her neighbor for objects of silver and gold.”

     

    Moses and Aaron were immensely relieved to hear that the end was indeed near, as they had suspected.

     

    On the third day the people of Goshen could see the light of their district expand throughout Egypt. The days of darkness were over.

     

    The Egyptian people, tired, and hungry, innocent victims of the battle between egotistical Pharaoh and the powerful God of Moses were thoroughly drained; they had lost everything, their fields, their herds and flocks, their air of superiority.

     

    It was clear to everyone that Pharaoh with his useless demands was the weak one, the loser. Many of them wanted to leave with Israel. The Egyptians through all of these calamities saw what Pharaoh was blind to. Sitting on his throne, his own people rooted for Israel to win the battle and move on. Moses was clearly the victor, in the sight of Pharaoh’s officials and in the sight of his people.

     

    As they were told to do, the Israelites took advantage of the favor they sensed from their neighbors. The women went into the Egyptian neighborhoods, knocked on doors and asked for items of silver and gold to take with them. By then it was not a matter of whether they would leave, but when. Egyptian women gladly handed over their precious metals as a prayer offering to the god of the Hebrews. Each household tried to out do its neighbor in generosity to the slaves and their powerful God. Little did they know that their biggest sacrifice was yet to come.

     

    Strengthened by the return of light to Egypt, and by the treasure they were given by the people, Moses sensed too that he had won. Their God won!  Only now, the plague was yet to come. Until this time, in spite of all the loss, not one human life had been taken. God thought it only fair to give Pharaoh a warning of the tenth and final event, the plague, that would break Pharaoh’s God-produced strong will.

     

    The guards saw Moses and Aaron approach and sent a messenger to ask Pharaoh if they should be admitted. Feeling better after the three day rest, and the morning light, he consented to receive the brothers. Perhaps they were coming to concede, he thought. Perhaps, they were willing to leave something precious behind to insure their return. That’s all he ever really wanted anyway. He didn’t care that they had a holiday, he just wanted to retain their usefulness, and his power over them.

     

    Moses entered the throne room with an air of confidence and solemnity that shook the better mood out of Pharaoh. Aaron said, “Thus says the Lord: About midnight I will go out through Egypt. Every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne to the firstborn of the female slave who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the livestock. Then there will be a loud cry throughout the whole land of Egypt, such as never been or ever will be again. But not a dog shall growl at any of the Israelites-not at people, not at animals-so that you may know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. Then all these officials of yours shall come down to me , and bow low to me, saying, ‘Leave us, you and all the people who follow you.’ After that, I will leave.”

     

    Moses had worked himself into a fury with this message. He was angry that it should come to this, the killing of so many innocents to force their release. By the time Aaron finished speaking, Moses was clearly fed up and in hot anger he turned without saying a word and walked out with Aaron at his heels.

     

    The Lord spoke to Moses’ heart, “Pharaoh will not listen to you, in order that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.”

     

    Moses was comforted by those words; he understood that God’s ways are mysterious. It was more important to God that His power and favoritism of Israel be recognized, than all the destruction and death that it took to make it obvious to Pharaoh, to the Egyptians, and to Israel.

     

    Gracefeld and Perambula were both very pleased with themselves for so successfully helping the Lord carry it off. These angels had never worked so hard, neither in the galaxies, nor on earth. They expected great rewards would follow and their names to be  written in the Angel Hall of Fame.

     

    Moses and Aaron too clearly sensed that these were holy days. For all the frustration and suffering, surely future generations would hear of the marvels and the plague that was to come, and stand amazed that God orchestrated such an epic release from the chains that had bound them to Egypt and to Pharaoh for centuries.

     

    However, it wasn’t over yet;  the Lord still hardened Pharaoh’s heart, in spite of the threat of the death that would ensue, through his able emissary Gracefeld, and he did not let them go.