Our final unearthed entry from Gabriel’s log—for now, at least—tells of the Battle of Bethlehem—James Hart Brumm
Personal Log of Gabriel, Messenger First Class, Trumpeter Second Class,
Advance Unit of the Assault Division, Armies of the God Who Is and Was and Is to Come
(also known as the “Heavenly Host”)
Here we are, finally doing what we have trained to do, finally going into battle. You silly humans have this spiffied up, shiny, darn-near-Disneyfied version of how all of this happened: Mary all pressed and dry cleaned, Joseph noble and stoic, barnyard animals with no anuses, an upholstered manger in a climate-controlled stable with high-tech indirect lighting. And then the biggest lie of all of that: me and my squad as sweet little choristers with snowy white wings and little pullover robes and tinsel halos orbiting our heads.
I was there. Let me tell you that Mary was hot and sweaty; she screamed a lot, and I think she may have said two or three words which surprised her husband and would probably scandalize her parents. Joseph was well-meaning, but . . . well, let’s just say one should never confuse a carpenter with a midwife. The animals were almost as noisy as the mother, and they definitely had all of the normal plumbing, and, as in any barn, you could smell it—I was grateful to be sent out to the sheep herd. And the straw on the floor smelled of various kinds of mucous and fluids, including blood. God, fully human and fully divine, was a human baby wailing in a feeding trough, not even swaddled very well, and he was millimeters from death. Birth does that to human infants.
So, the Boss was invading the human world, and, for all the omnipotence, was also utterly helpless. It makes sense that my unit, the Advance Unit of the Assault Division, was being sent in. What King James’ scholars translated as “heavenly host” was actually a multitude of the armies of heaven. And we weren’t singing something pretty. It’s amazing that you humans don’t recognize the strategy, as you have adopted and adapted it so many times: charge over a hill in the darkness with bright lights and lots of noise, surprising and confusing the sleeping enemy.
Yes, that’s right: we angels invented “Shock and Awe.”
And then there was the greeting. “Peace and good will” was the greeting every invading Roman army gave to the people they were about to conquer. It was a politically correct sort of shorthand, a way for them to seem civilized while they said, “Cooperate and we won’t slaughter the people of your community.” We used their lingo, and identified the planet and the whole of humanity as their community. This was an invasion.
Finally, none of this messenger stuff, none of the blasted wings or playing nicely with the humans. We had arrived. The Boss was invading, and we could secure the entire place and enforce the coming fo the Kingdom. We were ready for it. We had trained for it.
And the Boss didn’t want it.
“Just deliver the message,” God said. “Let them know I mean business,” God said, “then trust the shepherds and Joseph and Mary.”
Trust the shepherds? They were idiots; in this day and age, one only became a shepherd when one flunked the test for village idiot. And these were the ones who got put on the night shift—too stupid to be regular shepherds. These were people who weren’t allowed to testify in trials, they were so unreliable. And, as for Joseph and Mary: well, nice kids, faithful kids, but they travel to what is going to be, without a doubt, the most crowded city in Palestine—David got around, and Solomon even more so, so a lot of people were descended from them—without having the sense to reserve a room in the neighborhood. We are supposed to trust this lot with the future of the universe and the safety of almighty God. This was a ridiculous, unacceptable risk.
Still, orders are orders. Our way was a foolproof way of bringing about the Kingdom of God. The Boss, however, chose a path full of potential dangers, missteps, and misunderstandings, a path where God Godself could and would be destroyed by the very creatures, these grand experiments, God wished to save.
This was the Battle of Bethlehem: unimaginable, unbelievable, unacceptable by any sane standard . . . and, as it turned out, much better.
I guess this is why the Boss is the Boss.
Gloria in excelsis, Deo!