The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined. Isaiah 9:2
A young girl sought a way between the legions of servants bearing trays of meats and bottles toward the great hall. The Prince of the Realm held a feast in his own honor, and he sought the life of young Marta; a life she did not want to give up to satisfy another of his unholy cravings. Too many friends had she lost in this way; too many young lives ended to quench a passing thirst of dubious value. So she ran.
The castle surrounding that great central feasting hall was large and confusing beyond all reason. Marta ran against the current of servants until she entered the Prince's huge kitchens where all manner of roasts and delicacies denied to all but the most favored of servants were prepared. Breathless, she stopped to seek a way out. Surely the kitchens were served somehow by docks and delivery doors for the appetites of this place matched its size. She felt a push on her back and ran once more, just in time to avoid a large cleaver the head cook threw at her legs, seeking to wound the fleeing sacrifice. Cooks and servants laughed at her plight, throwing other implements to impede her but she made it into the warehouse area.
Marta wept a little as she ran on into the seemingly endless shelves and racks. She had known those people all of her young life, and yet, at the Prince's command she was outcast, prey to be wounded and slain for their entertainment. A servant Marta had never before seen motioned her toward a small doorway. She was lost and she knew it, as likely to find a secret passage right into the very place she sought to flee as to find escape in her own power. She did not know why, but she trusted this man.
He did not look at the Prince's favored men with their perfect faces, strong and chiseled in all the right ways. He did not bear their overwhelming arrogance and the mark of their incessant competition was not on him. In fact, Marta realized as she stopped at the door, he was one you might not notice at all if he didn't want you to see him.
"Flee down the stair, child," the man said to her, "and remember, I will be with you always."
What an odd thing to say, but Marta was grateful, for no one back there, and they were getting closer, she knew would lift a hand to save her now.
The man handed her a lit candle and then shut the door behind her, locking her in the small passageway. She had no hope behind, so she moved forward holding her small candle as far ahead as she could reach.
Down the stairs, and they had no end as far as the light could shine. Down and still further down with occasional landings where Marta took short rests. Darker and darker as her candle struggled to penetrate the overwhelming darkness with its small light. Marta breathed harder, the air resisting her gasping lungs. Suddenly, she could go no further. Stones the like of which she had never seen in the castle surrounded a tiny landing that faced a heavy door. Marta pushed against the door with all of her remaining strength, but it did not budge. Made of heavy wood and bound with iron, Marta could no more tear it apart than overthrow the Prince's castle so far above her.
Marta sat down on the lowest stair. Surely the soldiers of the Prince would find her now. She had nowhere to go.
"Why did you send me here?" Marta wept aloud. "I need you, Lord!" For she did not know what to call that man who sent her down this dark passage. Surely he was a lord, for who else would dare to oppose the Prince? Her crying became all the more desperate as her little candle went out.
"Why do you weep, child?" He asked.
Marta looked around. The man held aloft a torch of such brightness that Marta could not understand why she did not see it before. It was, she thought, such a torch that no darkness could conquer, no evil will snuff out.
"I thought you had led me down here to die, Lord."
"Always, though death casts its shadow over you, I will be here to lead you onward, my child," the man spoke such gentleness that Marta reached out to embrace him. "Let us go into the light of day, child."
To Marta's surprise, he reached out and pulled the door open. Bright light flowed into the little landing, a daylight sort of brightness and more, a living sort of light, and such people! Dressed in bright white linen, shining in the brightness of His glory with breastplates of steel and adamantine helms they awaited their Lord.
Two of the most beautiful creatures came to stand beside Marta. They too were armed with fearsome swords.
"My servants will guard you. Rejoice and weep no more, for you have passed Death's doorway and stand on the edge of eternity," the man said. "This castle of evil shall not stand, My time has come!" The power of His voice shook the base stones of the Prince's castle, mighty though they appeared, and Marta knew that no earthly power could stop the coming of the King.Have a Merry Christmas!