The Grand Occasion
Graduation day at Faith Academy arrived with eager anticipation, an early June Saturday boasting a sunny and blue Mid-Central sky. Enthused, too, was Jessica Lynne Whitcombe. Along with her, her ninety-nine classmates, dressed in their purple and gold cap and gown are lining up, preparing to march into the school auditorium at the clock's strike of high noon. All adorned with bright smiles in expectation of receiving their well earned and sought-after high school diplomas.
Among the many congratulations from other classmates, one young man, with brown hair and shimmering blue eyes is speaking with Jessica. He utters an appreciative thank you for her adjusting his cap to make it perfectly straight on his head.
"Congratulations, T.J.," she said.
"Thomas-John," he said, returning her bright dimpled smile, responding with his own smiling eyes. "T.J. is what I've been called ever since a kid," he continued. "Now that I'm older and completed high school, I think I'd rather prefer Thomas-John," he paused. "But, if ‘T.J.' slips out occasionally," he continued, "I'll probably still reply."
"Okay, ‘Thomas-John," remarked Jessica, "I'll try to remember that. But you can still call me ‘Jessi,' which many of my other friends do. I've known that name ever since I can remember. I guess I'll stick with it," she concluded, wrinkling her nose.
"Sure," Thomas-John said, "and congratulations, Jessi." Then, at hearing the start of the clock's chime, he suggested, "We should probably get back in line, I guess, it's approaching noon."
The class lined up, alphabetically, the school orchestra soon commenced to play that familiar Pomp and Circumstance tune to which the seniors started their march. Their entrance into the auditorium brings the audience – friends, and family of the senior class – to their feet in recognition of the graduates.
Perhaps none could be more appreciative than Jessi Whitcombe, considering all she went through early in her life. As she realizes, she might not even have seen this day if it were not for her childhood friend Timothy. She still feels he's a part of her, not just in her memory, but in her body as well – having received one of his kidneys, replacing her malfunctioning one.
The class seated in their chairs, the invocation spoken, Jessi too seated in her chair rehearses in her mind – perhaps as her classmates are doing – the hearing of her name when it would be her turn to ascend those few steps to receive her diploma.
The commencement speaker announced, he rises to the podium and begins his address to the seniors. While listening to the message, Jessi occasionally catches a glimpse of her parents in the audience.
Tears of joy swelled Sarah Whitcombe's eyes. Feeling the warm touch of her husband's hand on hers, she knew that he was, like her, so emotionally gripped. She was sure also he recalled the trials they went through together with their little girl's kidney disorder, and the event that saved her life, allowing them to witness this grand occasion for their Jessi – "their little bundle of joy."
The excitement intensifies, the roll call to receive their diplomas having begun. Jessi waits excitedly for her turn. In the meantime, fond memories of her life flash through her mind, recalling her childhood experiences.
All of a sudden, she gapes as if observing an appearance of Timothy viewing the occasion from above. Together in the presence of Jesus, there he is with his parents and granddad, and his Grammy now also, who had passed away just one year before this, Jessi's big day.
So refreshing are those memories playing with her best friend – those times of their many "grand adventures," as she penned it in her journal, they shared in her mind. It was through such imagined adventures that God, through Grammy's Bible reading times to them, brought home to both of them the essence of the more real life at an early age. Recalling one such memory, in particular, as she waits to hear her name called, she brightened.
A Memorable Experience
"Where are we?" little Jessi asked curiously, looking over the remote area, hardly a building in sight.
"I don't think we're in Mid-Central anymore, Jessi," responded little Timothy.
"Neither is it our time," returned Jessi, "What year is it anyway? And look at all those people hurrying toward us."
"There must be thousands of them," Timothy estimated. "They're clothes, too, certainly does look like something from a different year, many years ago."
Just then, Timothy grabbed a boy rushing by them, stopping him in his tracks. "Hey, boy, what's up? What's happening here? Where's everybody going? Where are they coming from?" he inquired in rapid succession.
"We're off to Bethsaida to see the one called Jesus, the 'miracle worker,' the boy answered, switching the sack he's carrying to his other shoulder. "I've been following Him ever since He healed my mother of her skin ailment. And I saw Him touch another man's eyes so he could see. He's an amazing teacher, too, talking about the 'Kingdom of God' of things our other teachers can't even seem to grasp."
Hushing a moment, the boy observed Timothy and Jessi more closely, eyeing their untypical apparel. "Who are you?" he asked. "You're not from around here, are you?" he concluded.
"We're from Mid…" Jessi started.
"Ah, her name is Jessi," Timothy interrupted. "We're from another city, a long way from here. I'm Timothy. What's your name?"
"Josiah," the boy answered, his head twisting about watching the crowd. "Hey, let's hurry now," he continued. "Come, come along with me and see this one who speaks of great things we've not heard before."
Rushing up the grassy slope, right behind Josiah, Jessi turns to Timothy, whispering, "I think I know what's going to happen."
"Yeah, me too," whispered Timothy. "We also learned about it in Sunday school."
"Yeah, and Grammy is reading the story to us right now from the Bible," Jessi reminded.
"What's going to happen?" Josiah asked softly, joining in the conversation.
"Ah-hh, we're going with you to see Jesus," Timothy replied.
"You'll see what a remarkable person He is, too," Josiah exclaimed.
Hurrying on their way, Timothy and Jessi observe the crowd. Some appear to have come from a great distance, carrying large pouches with them.
The crowd gathered closer together as they neared their destination point. Some of the people reclined on the grassy slope. The One they had come to see had finally arrived. Ascending further up the hill, He settled on a rock, some men encircled Him, looking out over the vast multitude.
"There He is!" exclaimed Josiah, pointing Him out to Timothy and Jessi, "There's Jesus! Those other men surrounding Him are always with Him. And there always seems to be twelve, as I have always counted. Come, let's get closer so we can hear what He has to say."
The children push their way forward through the crowd and stop just before Jesus. They listen as Jesus speaks to those men who have come with Him, and then, talking to one, in particular, He asks, "Philip, how can we buy enough food so all these people can eat?" He acknowledges the vast crowd.
"Teacher, for this crowd?" Philip answered, "Why, it will take several month's wages to buy enough food for everyone to have even a little."
Sitting there with Josiah and Timothy, observing the scene, Jessi remarks to Timothy, remembering Grammy's reading times to them, "The Bible tells us that Jesus knew all along what He was going to do. He knows everything to do, and just at the right time."
In his curiosity, Josiah turns toward Timothy and Jessi and asks, "The Bible? What's the Bible?"
"The Scriptures," Timothy said. "That's how we've heard about Jesus."
"Oh, the Scriptures – you mean the writings of Moses and the Prophets. That's what we have," Josiah said. "They're about our history and speaks of the coming Messiah. That's what this teacher taught us from in the synagogue, and of the Passover feast, we celebrate each year in remembering when our ancestors came out of Egypt so long ago. Hey," he stopped in his speech, "you know, I just remembered, it's almost Passover time again."
One of Jesus' men advanced toward the crowd, stopping in front of the three children. Jessi, with Timothy and Josiah, then rose to their feet. Examining the sack Josiah was carrying, the man spoke, "Come with me, son," and accompanied him toward Jesus. Awed at just what took place, Timothy and Jessi watched curiously.
"Teacher," the man said to Jesus, "Here is a child who has five barley loaves of bread and two fish. But, seriously, how can they feed such a large crowd as this?" His hand encompassed the crowd.
"Have you no faith, Andrew," Jesus said, asking for the bread and the fish from the boy. Josiah gladly handed it all to Jesus, then rejoined Timothy and Jessi.
Jesus, eyeing a thank you toward Josiah, then instructed His men, "Have the people sit down."
Taking the loaves, and after thanking His Father, Jesus' men distributed it among the people; likewise, He had done with the fish.
Timothy and Jessi, along with Josiah, enjoyed their meal, too, with the crowd. Their need sufficiently satisfied, the people dispersed to go their separate ways. The children caught the crowds' amazement, hearing some speak, "Surely, this is the Prophet who is to come into the world."
“Jessica Lynne Whitcombe,” her ears perk up at the hearing of her name announced, like all the others of the class in hearing their names. Now Jessi, too, receives her high school diploma, and her heavenly Father’s plan for the next phase for her mortal existence begins.
(As well, that evil one aspiring that hateful glare, opens up to the next chapter in the book of his C.E.O.’s direction for the next phase of his destructive plan for her.)
© 2017 Charles O Newcombe