Joshua ben Joseph was spending this quiet winter afternoon the way he spent most quiet winter afternoons, (except the Sabbaths, of course) at work in his step-father's carpentry shop. It was his birthday but Joshua's mother and step-father weren't planning anything special. His culture didn't celebrate birthdays. Chanukah had come and gone and the next really big festival wasn't until Purim. Anyway, Joshua, turning eighteen today, was too grown up for the childish antics of Purim.

 

As he was busy working away on repairing one of his neighbour's milking-stools, Joshua heard a familiar Voice.

 

"Hello, Son."

 

"Oh, hi Dad."

 

"Working hard? You look tired."

 

Joshua put down his tools with a sigh. "Not tired, Dad, not physically. It's just . . . "

 

"Well?"

 

Joshua never had trouble talking with his Father the odd time He started up a conversation but today something was troubling him and he wasn't sure Dad would take it well.

 

"Dad, You know You once told me I should go into my father's line of work. Well, Joseph's been really patient and he teaches me the best he can, but I just get the feeling I'm not cut out for carpentry. I mean, look at this stool it's all a mess. I can't even hammer in a nail straight. I like to obey You but, I just don't think I'll ever be anywhere near a half-decent carpenter."

 

"There was amusement in his Father's Voice. "Did I tell you to be a carpenter? Think, Joshua. You're eighteen now, it's time to get to work. Your real work."

 

"Carpentry. Joseph's a carpenter."

 

"Joseph is your step-father. I meant My line of work."

 

This was a curious thought for young Joshua. He never really thought of his Father having "work" as such. But, whatever it was, it had to be better than carpentry. And, Joshua had been having the feeling that people in town, actually all over, weren't paying Dad and His precepts the kind of attention Joshua thought they should have. "What would I do?"

 

"Just tell 'em stories, Son. You know how to do that."

 

"Stories about sin?"

 

"Sin is good. Well, no, sin isn't good. I didn't mean it that way. I mean sin is good to tell a story about. Except, Son, it's not the best thing to tell a story about. People like to hear stories about familiar things. Okay, sure, sin is familiar to them but . . ."

 

Joshua waited and didn't interrupt. Dad had a tendency to ramble. He had all the time in the universe at his disposal so it wasn't like Dad needed to take care to be succinct.

 

" . . . thing is, Son, I've got all the time in the universe so I tend to ramble. I don't talk much to people anymore, it tends to confuse them. I was thinking you could talk to them for me. Tell them what I want them to know in little stories. Not about sin all the time, necessarily. You don't have to scare them off. Tell them about familiar things, but with a moral, see?"

 

"Telling stories for a living?"

 

The young men of Nazareth didn't have a lot of spare time on their hands. Regular days were filled with work, prayer and Torah study. But on the Sabbath, when no work was permitted, Joshua and some friends liked to sit around and tell each other stories they had made up. In fact, Joshua spent some of the mindless carpentry hours thinking up stories to tell. But it wasn't something he'd thought of doing seriously.

 

"It may grow into something bigger eventually," his Father suggested, cryptically.

 

"OK, Dad. I'll give it a try."

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