The war drums beat incessantly in the hills. Great trails wound down to converge on this spot in the dark valley. All around, smoke and the smell of brimstone rose from large rents in the rocks. Below the surface one could hear agonizing cries of those in torment. Thrum! Bum! Thrum! Bum! The drums beat on.
Off in the shadows, little cliques of hideous beings played games of chance. "The winner dines on goat and the loser on buzzard!" called the hawkers. They all HATED buzzard. It was too much like eating leeches.
The large, stone altar stood in front of their evil palace. On it, blood was shed. Human blood, when possible.
Inside, the council was discussing their strategy.
"We must stop Him!" they cried in unison.
"Yes, but how?" asked an evil prince.
"We will set a trap for Him on the road and ambush Him!"
"Oh," said the prince. "You mean like we tried to ambush His mother right after our Enemy came upon her and she was with child? You remember that day. We sent a whole legion of great warriors to attack that little caravan on the way from Nazareth to Hebron. They never got close. They were blinded by a bright light and ran away screaming in pain."
"We can destroy His reputation!" This from the sniveling voice of a particularly insidious and slimy creature sitting in a corner stool. "A word here, an insinuation there..."
"You mean," replied the prince, "the way we tried to destroy Mary's reputation? We had Joseph ready to fall into our hands when that jolly Gabriel got to him! We would have washed her away in a flood of ill will!"
Thrum! Bum! Thrum! Bum!
"I have an idea," sneered a supervisor known as Legion. "We can turn the might of Rome against Him."
"The way we turned Herod against all the little boys in Bethlehem? We sent the flood of political power against Him and it was if the planet itself opened up and swallowed down our might. He escaped, as you remember."
Thrum! Bum! Thrum! Bum!
"Then what do we do?" The chorus of complaints and snarls and sickening cries filled the room.
They all looked up. His eyes were as dead as his voice.
His voice. Dread. Evil. Confident. Icy.
"I have a plan..."
To my readers: the events surrounding the birth of Christ are given extensive coverage in Scripture. The parts we don't always know about are the human elements, especially from the viewpoint of Jesus' participants. My attempt this Christmas is to stay true to the Biblical text, while shading in what it may have been like "between the lines." Please distinguish my ruminations from God's Word by reading the first few chapters of Matthew and Luke. My hope is that reading my words impacts you even a tiny percentage as much as writing them has impacted me.