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"...Choose only entertainment and media that uplift you. Good entertainment will help you to have good thoughts and make righteous choices...Do not participate in entertainment that in any way presents immorality or violent behavior as acceptable."
For The Strength of Youth

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    Ch. 44 The Wisdom of the Wise
 
Submitted by Melanie Goldmund on 14 December 2006 - 2:33am.

It was always busy in the pre-existence, Bishop Bernard thought, as he looked out of the window of his office, but just now, things were even busier than ever. The Saviour was supposed to go to earth in only a few hours to be born. If Bernard strained his ears, he could just hear the nearest choir practicing feverishly, every singer no doubt hoping to be called to celebrate the birth with song that even the mortals could hear. There had been a lot of speculation as to who would be selected for the great honour, but although the time was quickly approaching, Bernard had not heard of anybody who'd been picked.

There was a flutter of wings overhead, and Bernard saw the shadow of something swooping down. Only messenger-angels flew like that, and Bernard supposed that somebody nearby, maybe even somebody in his ward, was about to receive the all-important call. He looked away from the window, sighing wistfully with the thought that singing was not exactly his greatest talent, and was surprised to hear a knock on his door. Before he could answer, it was opened from the other side, and a messenger-angel came in, pulling a hovering wagon behind him.

"Bishop Bernard," said the angel. "All things must be done in order, therefore, this task has been delegated to you."

"Of course," Bishop Bernard said. He'd been a bishop long enough to finally learn the concept of delegation. Occasionally, he even delegated something himself.

"Some of the members of your ward have been called to appear over the fields of Bethlehem and sing a short song for the birth of the Saviour. Here's the list of singers, and here are some wings for them to wear. Please gather them together according to the instructions on the left hand segment of the scroll."

"Thank you," said the bishop. He opened the scroll and discovered to his shock that his name was right at the top of the list. "Wait a minute --"

"Many blessings," said the angel. "We'll see you at the fields."

"This can't be right --" Bernard protested, but the angel had already gone.

Bernard looked at the list again, but there was no mistake. Coming around the side of his desk, Bernard lifted a pair of wings from the wagon, and put them on. He'd never worn wings before, and was amazed at how light he suddenly felt. Smiling at the way his feet drifted slowly away from the floor, Bernard took the list in one hand, reached for the wagon with his other hand, then glided through the door to find the next person on the list. Because Brother Friedeman's dwelling was quite close to his office, Bernard took the opportunity to swoop up and down the street once before knocking on the door.

"Greetings, Brother Friedeman," said the bishop. "You have been called to appear over the fields of Bethlehem and sing a short song for the birth of the Saviour."

"A short song?" asked Friedeman in arrogant dismay. "I can sing entire operas with one lung tied behind my back! Do I really have to make do with a short song?"

"That's the assignment," said Bishop Bernard.

"Then I'll sing so loud that the Saviour himself will hear me in Bethlehem," Friedeman said, and took a deep breath, as though he were going to start right then and there.

Bernard had sometimes wondered why Brother Friedeman had never been a part of any heavenly choir, but now he had an inkling as to the real reason.

"Here are your wings," he said quickly, pulling a pair out of the wagon. "You can put them on and practice flying a bit before we start."

Looking a bit disgruntled, Friedeman put his wings on, scarcely listening to Bernard's instructions, then began to sing as he soared down the street. He was obviously concentrating so hard on his song that he didn't notice how close he was to the roof of the corner building. As his wing flapped up against the overhang and the impact spun him in a completely different direction, his low note became a high note of sheer panic.

Hiding a smile, Bishop Bernard went to the dwelling of the next person on the list. To his surprise, it was young Tiberius who answered the door, but then Bernard remembered that Tiberius went there for lessons.

"Bishop! You've got wings! Have they made you into a messenger-angel? Have you got a message for me? Maybe a calling? Maybe I could help answer prayers?" the boy asked excitedly, all in a rush. He was an eager, but a very young soul, and still needed some knowledge and experience.

"Hello, Tiberius," Bishop Bernard said. "No, I'm sorry, but I've come to talk to Brother Boaz."

He knocked on the door again, giving Tiberius a chance to look into the wagon.

"What have you got there?" Tiberius asked. "What are those things?”

"Those are wings," Bernard explained, flapping his own demonstrably.

"Wings? You mean they don't just grow on you?" Tiberius looked at him in disappointment.

"It'd be a bit hard to get dressed if you had wings sprouting out your back, wouldn't it?" Bernard asked, watching Brother Boaz shuffle towards the door. Brother Boaz never did anything fast, and no doubt patience was a large part of Tiberius' lessons with him.

"Look, Brother Boaz, wings!" Tiberius called out excitedly. "We could have a race!"

Boaz looked at the wings in the wagon, then at Tiberius, and then at Bernard. He said, "I think I'm getting old. I don't remember ordering wings."

"They come with the calling," Bishop Bernard started to explain.

"Now, I do remember that I have a calling, and wings aren't necessary for it," Boaz said.

"I don't have a calling OR wings," cried young Tiberius, hopping excitedly in front of the bishop.

"You have been called to appear over the fields of Bethlehem and sing a short song for the birth of the Saviour," Bernard said, trying to speak to Boaz over Tiberius, but the boy was jumping up and down at eye-level and obviously felt included.

"Hooray!" Tiberius rejoiced.

"I meant Brother Boaz," the bishop said, and Tiberias stopped in mid-bounce. His face fell and his shoulders slumped dramatically.

"Oh, let him," said Boaz with a dismissive wave of his hand. "I'm too old for that kind of thing."

"Nonsense. You're not as old as you make yourself," said the bishop. He pulled a pair of wings out of the wagon and extended them to Boaz. "Put these on, practice a bit, and be on your way. It'll be starting time soon."

Brother Boaz took the wings reluctantly and held them in his hand while Bernard gave him instructions on where to meet. Then he walked slowly down the street without putting them on.

"There are so many wings!" Tiberius said, looking wistfully into the wagon. "Are you sure that I wasn't called?"

"I'm sure," said the bishop, looking at the boy's sad face. In a moment of inspriration, he took his own wings off and held them out. "But you can wear my wings and help me to pass these out to the other singers. All right?"

"Yippee!" the boy cried. He pulled the wings on eagerly, almost getting them upside down, flapped up to the rooftop and swooped down, then circled the bishop until Bernard had to tell him firmly to settle down or he'd have to take them off again. Trying to appear obedient, Tiberius settled for pulling the wagon behind Bernard as he walked. But out of the corner of his eye, Bernard caught enough movement to know that Tiberius was occasionally letting the wagon float and flying loop-de-loops behind his back.

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