Zach in the Sack

Zach in the Sack

Nov 24, 2015

Zach in the Sack

By Dennis Coleman

SDB Church of Shiloh, NJ

Have you ever gotten caught with your hand in the cookie jar? I almost did and, while trying to hide, I wound up taking a long ride in a sack of grain. In the end I met the most amazing human, a baby who would forever change the world.

My day started like any other with a slice of mom’s barley bread for breakfast. Mom always mixed in just the right amount of honey, making hers the best barley bread in all of Galilee. Like any other young mouse, I would have liked to have slept in late…but not if it meant missing out on a slice of barley bread.

“Zacharias,” my mom called as I finished my last bite, “your father and I will be busy today gathering the supplies we will need while the humans are in Bethlehem.”

“I still don’t understand why they are leaving. I’ll miss watching Mr. Joseph working in his shop.”

“I know. We will all miss them while they’re gone. But they have to go to Bethlehem by order of the emperor.”


Cartoon maus with a blank sign


Wiping her paws on her red apron, she gave me the look…the kind moms give when they want to make sure their children are paying attention. “Make sure you stay out of trouble Zacharias.” Mom was the only one who called me by my full name, which was the Greek version of Zechariah. I was named after one of Ms. Mary’s relatives whose name meant “God has remembered.”

“The people will be busy getting ready for their trip,” mom continued. “Please stay out of their way.”

“I will.”

I put my plate in the sink and headed to my room to get my favorite red cape. My shield, made from a coin which had been dropped by one of Mr. Joseph’s customers, was under my bed. The shield and cape make me look like a Roman soldier. Unfortunately, while I had my uniform I did not have my sword. My original sword got broken when I stepped on it by accident. Good thing we live in a carpenter’s home. There are always small scraps of wood on the floor so I knew I would have no trouble finding a replacement sword. With sword in hand I would be dressed for battle, ready to defeat the fiercest of dust bunnies.

I made my way out of our nest and into the kitchen that Mr. Joseph was making for Mary. They were just recently married and were still working to set up the house to Mary’s liking. From there I had hoped to make my way to the shop but my plans were interrupted by a knock on the door.

“Hello, Mary,” said the woman visitor, “I wish I could stay awhile but the animals are loaded and we are ready to start our journey. I just wanted to drop off these Teiglach.”

Teiglach! Just hearing the name made my mouth water. You can keep your chocolate chips. No other cookie compared to a fresh warm Teiglach. Teiglach are small balls of dough boiled in honey. Normally we would only eat them during Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and they were best eaten before the honey became brittle. It was not the season for Teiglach…but hey, who’s complaining!

“I thought,” the visitor continued, “these might sweeten your journey. Are you sure you will be okay taking such a long ride?”

“I’ll be fine,” Mary answered with a slight giggle. “I just hope the baby can wait until after we return. Having a baby on the road would not be much fun.”


Mouse with blank board


I missed the rest of their conversation because the smell of warm honey filled the house. I had to have at least one Teiglach before Mary and Joseph left.

Mary and the woman said their goodbyes and Mary carried the bag of cookies over to the table. Then she returned to the task of packing clothes for the trip. That’s when I made my move.

I scurried across the room and over to the table. Joseph had carved decorations into the table’s leg making it easy to climb, even with my cape trailing behind. A bag of barley sitting near the table kept me hidden from view on my way up.

By the time we got to Bethlehem all of the hotel rooms were full. The only space available was in a stable where horses and donkeys normally slept. I was fine with sleeping with the other animals but it was not the best place for people — especially when they were expecting a new baby.

I was able to squeeze out of the bag just in time to find everyone running from place to place grabbing things Mary would need for the baby’s arrival. The manger (a feeding trough for the animals) was emptied and turned into a baby crib. They planned to wrap the baby in swaddling clothes, which I imagined would feel like a big hug. I found myself wishing I were home getting a big hug from my mom. Normally I pretended not to like hugs, but being so far from home, a hug was exactly what I needed.

My thoughts of home were interrupted when the baby took his first breath and let out a good healthy cry. It was then that I saw Joseph smile as he turned to his wife and said, “It’s a boy.”

Mary returned his smile and said, “A boy. Just as the angel said.”

I had never seen an angel but my mom had told me a lot about them. I suspect the angel told Mary and Joseph what they should name the baby. Without pausing for even a moment they both said his name would be Jesus.


Mice reading book


The humans set out to make Mary comfortable, preparing a place for her to relax. While they weren’t looking, I was able to sneak up the side of the manger to take a look. There, wrapped comfortably in his swaddling clothes was the baby Jesus. At first glance he looked like any other small person. But something about him did seem different. I could not pinpoint why but something about him gave me a feeling of great peace.

I should have been afraid, but near this baby I felt safe. I missed being at home but somehow, as I looked into His eyes, I felt like everything was as it should be. Mice normally run away from people, but there was something about baby Jesus that made me want to stay there by his side.

A sudden noise drew my attention away from the baby. As I jumped down from on top of the manger, I saw a group of very excited shepherds who introduced themselves to Joseph.

“We saw an angel,” one of them said. “He told us the Savior had been born.”

“He said we would find a baby,” added a second shepherd. “We were told we would know this baby because he would be wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”

“It was then,” continued the first shepherd, “that a large group of angels joined the first. They began to worship God and to thank Him for His plan for the salvation of man. And now we have come to see and to worship.”

The men approached the manger and gave thanks to God. It was then that I understood. This baby was no ordinary baby. He was sent to save men and women from their sins. Anyone who believes in Him is forgiven by God and given the power to become His child. From that day forward many received this gift of salvation.

Have you accepted the gift of forgiveness from God?

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