From our reporter in Bethlehem.
There is talk of a new king in town, but it isn’t going to happen, I can assure you. Herod won’t stand for any competition. There are rumours of a sweet new baby with claims to a higher throne. Apparently some rough diamond shepherds came rolling through the streets last night, singing at the top of their voices and stinking to high heaven. They had seen a new king they claimed, their shouts loud enough to resurrect the dead; a new day was dawning. Well not yet it wasn’t, it was not long past midnight. Something had clearly rattled them for they danced and laughed and sang their way all the way back to the sheep they had so eagerly abandoned. Angels had started it, so one of them said, but who can trust the word of a shepherd? Certainly not this reporter. Everyone knows they lurk about in the hinterlands of society, unacceptable to God, the priests and the Temple. Unclean is not the word for them. If there was a new king surely he’d have been born somewhere respectable, with invitations sent out to the great and the good. Not in an animal trough with barely a mutter and a new born cry. And how can he lay claim to kingship anyway? They say his father builds houses and his mother has a dubious backstory. Hardly a promising start. I know the people are desperate for a saviour from these blasted Romans, but surely that’s paddling in the shallows when it comes to hope of a revolution. It’ll be a good thirty years before he’s anything like ready to lift a sword, rally an army and wave a flag.
That’s a lot of hanging about. He may not have the right temperament, or leadership skills. He may not be aggressive enough. Suppose he turns out to be the kind of guy who enjoys hanging about with sinners and low life, telling funny stories to children and shaking hands with widows. Suppose, horror of horrors, he’d rather rub shoulders with losers than winners. Where will that get anybody? Perhaps he has a halo as a kind of divine badge, I suggested to one of the locals, but she just laughed, said she’d seen the child and he looked like any normal new baby. A little shocked to be here and still showing traces of slime in his hair. Cries and sucks and burps and fills his nappy like any Bethlehem baby apparently. We need a little more than that. We surely need a kind of superman, or super-baby, self-cleaning, with a divine afterglow. Someone special. Not ordinary. No, take my word for it, Herod will get wind, organise some kind of brutal purge and bang! That’ll be the end of this tiny uprising. Sad but surely true.