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Salamanca Gargoyle

Some years ago, I taught a Sunday School class of third- and fourth-graders. One Sunday, they learned the story told in Luke 4 of Jesus’ rejection at Nazareth. We talked about how Jesus’ quotation of Isaiah 61—“the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me . . . ”—was an announcement to the synagogue that he was the Messiah. I wasn’t sure if they were following me until a little girl named Rachel mused, “I wonder what the devil said when Jesus announced that he was the Messiah? I wonder if he said the SH word?”

I’ve been thinking about Rachel’s apt characterization of the devil and wondering what Old Scratch made of the first Christmas. Did he know about the Annunciation? Did he try to foul things up with Caesar and his census and an overcrowded inn? Clearly, he was on the trail by the time he incited Herod to slaughter the infants of Bethlehem. But is it possible that the Prince of Darkness was in the dark about the baby in Mary’s womb?

If so, he was enlightened by the un-fallen angels who visited the shepherds. There, where David had grazed his flocks, they announced the birth of the Son of David, prophesied for so many generations. I’m pretty sure that by the time the angels finished their song, Satan must have known what was up. God had invaded the territory of the Prince of this World. He had come stealthily as a baby in Bethlehem, “pleased as man with men to dwell.” And he would save his people from their sin. As the glow of the angels faded and the shepherds headed to the manger, I imagine the devil knew he was seeing the beginning of his end. And I have a feeling that he said the SH word.

Photo of Salamanca Gargoyle by Richard Penn via Wikimedia Commons

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