The King Who Did Not Forget
Before the creation of the world, they had made a covenant, binding themselves in a relationship without end. There would be the creation, the bringing-everything-to-be. And beyond that lay the darkness of the image-bearers who would blind themselves by looking too long at the light as they tried to overthrow it.
The agreement was that he would redeem the rebels, this covenant made even before they were created. He entered into this willingly, despite the dreadful cost, pledging his very life to save those who were born to be his subjects but were self-determined to be his enemies.
The morning stars sang together and the sons of God shouted for joy.
The children, wrapped in their blankets, huddled by the fireplace, nodded.
The story began with Once upon a time, as many good stories do, this story of the fulfillment of the covenant. He was born into a land of the planet hostile to him, as had been agreed. He had to grow up humbly, with none of the honor that he deserved. He learned to work with his hands, this one who had created the universe, laying stone in the lovely small town near his home in the hills. He was a master craftsman, but there was nothing about his appearance to suggest that he was anything extraordinary. He was just one of a handful of children, and some still wondered about the legitimacy of his birth.
He may have looked ordinary, but he hadn't forgotten the reason why he had come.
He waited patiently, preparing, until the day of the battle. To the shock and dismay of his small army, he went unarmed into the enemy's camp, all too vulnerable. To be sure, his hands were strong, but the strong hands of one man couldn't defeat the world's best trained army.
They may have forgotten that he had already been living in enemy territory, but he had not.
And he died there, life bleeding out with a desperate cry of forsakenness. Those who had followed him hid. They didn't understand, hadn't heard, the terms on which he gave up his life.
Give me back my people. Give me back my bride.
Like the heroes of Greek and Roman legend, he went down himself into death to pursue and free the captives, to hound hell. Unlike those heroes, he did not fall prey to any of the alluring traps of death, and so it had no hold on him. He slipped out of its grasp, subduing it instead.
He led those he had redeemed out of the deep dark places, into the light. He reclaimed his bride, washing away her shame and covering her with his grace. He trained them to fight, an army to carry on with the final battles until he'd come back again.
"And now we are part of the King's family, too," added a sleepy voice. "Don't forget that part."
"Now we are the King's children too," said the storyteller with a smile. "We won't forget, because he didn't forget. So we live... happily... ever... after."
The happily ever after doesn't come immediately, not when you are part of the forces left in country still occupied by enemies. Sometimes they crowded together, lonely and cold in the vast open spaces, clinging to the memories and the words that were left, the promise that he would, in fact, come back some day. They were wanderers, tethered to the real by the stories passed down from generation to generation, stories more true and lovely than any fairy tale.
Firelight flickered on their grimy faces and bloody hands as they fell asleep, weary, to dreams of a world more real than their own and the King who would return.
The King who had not forgotten before, who would not forget them now.
He was coming.