Advent Firesiders

Prologue (2008)

Mary, a quiet Christian girl became pregnant and stubbornly insisted that the baby was very special; she had dreamed that it should be called Joshua and that it would bring holy joy to the world. Her boyfriend, Joseph, didn't say much but said they were an item. They left for a distant town where Joseph could work as a building labourer but Mary's waters broke before they found lodgings and she gave birth in an abandoned squat; it was cold and damp, so she wrapped Joshua in a piece of old blanket and sheltered him in a cardboard box.

Meanwhile, at the edge of the town there was a makeshift colony of travellers where the men were watching out for National Front thugs but instead they saw a song-and-dance troupe, dressed in bright, shiny costumes, coming towards them: "Cheer up!" said their leader. "Good news. A special baby has been born today who will bring happiness to the poor; the world will never be the same again because God's son is one of us!" And the troupe sang: "God is great! God is Good! He has sent peace to his earth!"  And then they went. "Well, we better go and see," said a few of the travellers, so they went down into the town after the dancers until they came to a rotting hulk of a house where they heard a baby crying and they went in and comforted the mother and one of them told her fortune and another gave her some magic sea shells. And then they went back praising God and saying they would have something to tell their grandchildren.

Later, pundits turned up at the Council and said there was a really special baby in the area; they had checked it on Google and their GSM had got them this far: "We saw clues months ago but it was difficult to sort out." The Mayor said: "If there's anybody important round here I need to know." And he asked his officials: "What do you know about this?" They said there had been massive internet traffic about a special baby of Nigerian origin in the region. "Go and find it," said the Mayor to the pundits, "and report back." The pundits found Joshua in a Council flat and gave it a Baby Bond, a Body Shop token and funeral insurance but they didn't fancy returning to the Mayor so they just slipped away. When the Mayor was snubbed by the pundits he staged a crack-down and rounded up black people but Mary, Joseph and Joshua escaped to another region until the fuss died down. Joshua became a world famous preacher but he was so perfectly behaved and so radical in his call for social justice that he was a constant goad to the rich and powerful and they arranged to have him tortured and killed through extraordinary rendition under a foreign jurisdiction; but such was the power of his message and the force of the inner spirit that his followers said that he would continue to live in them and his message would never fade.

An unlikely story! But something like this, only better, happened in Bethlehem just over 2,000 years ago!