Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Follow That Star!

It was the last day before Christmas Vacation at Saints Bernadette and Therese High School in Lakeville, Nebraska. Senior Cecelia Starr, 17 years old, captain of the cheerleading and girls basketball teams and a straight-A student, was walking towards the Principals office to do the afternoon announcements. She was popular, pretty, and class President. She was planning to study elementary education at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Steubenville, Ohio, the next fall. Her boyfriend, 18-year-old senior Jacob Richie, captain of the football, basketball, and baseball teams, was waiting for the bell to ring in Government class. Sure, he was going to Stanford University next fall to study law, but he was done with the test, and he wanted the bell to ring. Now. Everyone considered Cece and Jake the perfect couple. They had been voted Homecoming King and Queen, and everyone expected them to be Prom King and Queen as well. 16-year-old Liliana Jenkins, a junior and Cecelia's best friend, was twirling her hair in Math class. She thought she probably didn't do that well on the test, but as she figured she was going to have to go to community college anyway because of her grades. Plus, she had more important things to worry about. Like making sure she wore her hair differently each day of the week and all her jewelry matched her navy, tan, and white uniform. Benjamin Cullins was just finishing his test in Theology class. Theology was his favorite class and he was getting all A's in school so far. He was planning on attending seminary after graduating from high school in two years. He had wanted to be a priest for as long as he could remember.
"Hi, this is Cecelia Starr with the afternoon announcements," Cecelia's voice came over the PA system, "We only have one, make that two announcements today. First of all, don't forget the special Life Night tonight over at church, we will be wrapping presents for our Christmas families, going to Adoration, and eating pizza. Hope everyone can come! And also, have a fun and safe Christmas vacation!" Brrrring! The day was over. School was out for the next two weeks. Cecelia, Jacob, Liliana, and Benjamin all met in front of school. They were planning on going to Lili's to hang out before Lifeteen that night. "How'd your Math test go, Lili?" Jacob asked her. "Good, well I think. Probably not. You know, it's whatever. Like, I had so much fun shopping last week for our Christmas families. Did you see all those deals I got? We got those families like twice what we would have been able to afford!" "Yeah, you can really be a little ditzy sometimes, Lili, but you did get some awesome deals! Why can't you apply those shopping-math skills to school math?" Cecelia asked her. "Because school is school," Liliana said, "and shopping is shopping!" Her friends all rolled their eyes. They were sure Liliana just didn't know her full potential! After they arrived at Liliana's house, they changed their clothes (they had packed a change of clothes in their backpacks), and Liliana's mom asked if anyone wanted some fresh-baked Christmas cookies. Of course, they said yes.
Over cookies and hot chocolate they discussed last weeks Lifeteen shopping expedition some more. "I am just so happy we were able to do 10 families this year!" Benjamin said. "I know," Jacob said, "Last year we only did 6, and this year 10? It's amazing how many donations came in!" "Hey Lili," Cecelia asked her, "what did you have to bring for wrapping tonight?" "I think I am bringing a roll of paper," Liliana replied, "What about all of you?" "Tape!" said Jacob. "Scissors!" said Cecelia. "Sharpies!" said Benjamin. "Cool..." Liliana sighed, "So, Cece and Jake! Looks good for the basketball season, eh?" Jake spoke first, "We've only had 3 games, Lili, but the team is doing well! We even beat Lakeville High last week, and they are our biggest rival! And Cece, did I tell you how awesome you did in your game against St. Thomas? You guys, I mean, girls, heh heh, um yeah, really rocked! But you did especially great." "Thanks, Jake. Really, we only beat them by 9 points. You did great in your game, though! You shot 4 three-pointers!" "Oh, come on," Jake replied. "Quit being so modest about it, Jacob," Benjamin told him, "You really are a good basketball player. Why do you think you have a basketball scholarship to Stanford?" "Basketball AND academic," Cecelia reminded all of them. Jacob blushed. "Oh wow it's already 5:00!" Benjamin exclaimed, "We had better head to church."
On thier way to church, snow stared to fall, piling on top of the 3 inches Lakeville had recieved the previous day. Jacob picked up a fistful of snow and threw it at Cece. He then threw one at Lili and then Ben. Cece struck back first, and soon they were all in a snowball fight, continuing as they walked to church. By the time they were to church, they were covered in white splotches of snow. They quickly brushed each other off and headed to the gathering space. Their youth leader, Kelly, came and greeted them, "Hey guys! Did you all bring the supplies?" "Sure did," Cecelia said, holding up Lili's roll of wrapping paper and the bag they had put their other items in at Lili's house. "Great," Kelly said, "Just go put them over there on the floor with the other rolls of wrapping paper." Soon the four friends and many other teens from their youth group, as well as the floor, were covered in rolls of tape, scissors, markers, scrap pieces of paper, and ribbon. Cece and Lili were meticulously packing their boxes and wrapping them carefully, while Jake and Ben simply set the gifts in the box in no order, and then cut a piece of wrapping paper that looked as though it would fit. After they saw it didn't, they found a scrap piece of paper on the floor to tape over the hole. Cece stared at them and said, "What do you call THAT?" Jacob replied, "A masterpiece! It's, oh, what's a good word?" Lili suggested, "Um, abstract?" Jacob's face lit up, "That's perfect! It's an abstract masterpiece!" Ben, always the quieter of the four friends laughed at his friend, "Jacob, you are just so funny!" Before long, all of the presents were wrapped for every member of every family. They stacked them according to family on the table in the corner of the room. Kelly said, "OK, all of you! We did great this year! Now, please turn off your cell phones and we will head over to church for a half hour of Adoration."
The four friends followed the other teens over to church, and soon they were kneeling side-by-side in front of the Monstrance. Music was playing in the backround, and they all linked hands and started to pray the words. Before they knew what was happening, they felt wind swirl around them. They all opened their eyes, but quickly shut them. Sand was flying everywhere! "Where are we?" Liliana shouted. Jacob said, "I have no idea! Come on, let's huddle together until this storm stops!" Soon, the sand stopped flying and the wind settled down. Jacob, Cecelia, Liliana, and Benjamin all opened their eyes. They were in the middle of what looked like a desert. "What happened?" Ben said. "I don't know..." said Cecelia, "I was praying, and then we joined hands and started singing, and then all of a sudden, we were here." Jacob had left and gone to look for a sign of life somewhere, anywhere. He had to protect his girlfriend and his best friends and he had no idea where they were. He went back to Cece, Lili, and Ben, and said "Nothing, I found nothing, no animals, and definetly no humans." "Hey!" Ben shouted, "Look over there!" Everyone directed their attention to where he was pointing. They saw what looked like three men. And they had camels! Liliana said, "Hey, you guys! Let's see where they are going!" They ran over to the men. The men looked them over and said something they couldn't understand. Well, everyone but Cecelia. She knew just about every language. "They want to know what in the world we are wearing!" she laughed. She responded, "We have no idea where we are or even what year it is!" They replied and Cecelia translated, "You are in the Middle East, and you are apparently a very long time in the past," Cece said, while the wise men were surveying their clothing again."Whoa...." Cece stood there shocked. "And where are you headed?" she asked. "See that star? We are following it to the birth of our next great king!" "Just a minute," Cece said, turning to her friends. "OK, these guys say we are in the Middle East a very long time ago! Should we ask them for a ride? It's our only chance out of here!" "Ask them where they are going, Cece," Jacob said. Cece asked and they replied "First we are stopping to see King Herod in Jerusalem and tell him our mission." Cece stared in disbelief. She said to her friends, "You all won't believe this, but if we go with these guys, we might get to see the baby Jesus!" "Are you sure?" the ever-skeptical Ben asked. "Yes!" she replied. "Then let's go!" exclaimed Lili. Jacob and Ben helped the girls onto the camels. The three wise men headed off with the fours friends from Lakeville, Nebraska. They couldn't wait to see where they were going!
Soon, they saw what looked like a city. One of the wise men said something to Cece and she told her friends, "You guys! This is Jerusalem! We're going to see King Herod." Jacob said, "Cece, you know what happens. Herod is going to want us to tell him where the Baby Jesus is so he can go kill him!" Cece replied, "Yeah, but remember? The wise men have a dream and go back to their country by a different way!" Ben chimed in, "She's right, Jake. Don't worry. We'll be fine." "I guess so," Jake said, "I just want to protect all of you. But I am getting hungry, and I know they ate dinner with King Herod, so mmmmmm..." Cece winked at him and said, "Oh, so now you're not going to protect us and stuff your face instead?" He laughed, "No! I need you know, strength so I can protect you!" Ben, Liliana, and Cece laughed. The wise man said something to Cece, and she again translated, "He says we will be at the castle soon!" Jacob and Ben pratically sang Hallelujiah Chorus as they both shouted, "FOOD!!!" Cece and Lili rolled their eyes and laughed at them, and Cece said, "We just ate cookies at Lili's house 3 hours ago! How can you be hungry?" Ben looked at her like she was crazy and said, "Because. We're guys! We need food to live!" "Hey!" Lili said, "Look! We are here!" Jake and Ben helped the girls off the camels and the three wise men led them in to the castle.

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