Christmastime is upon us, and what better way to get into the Christmas spirit than by reading a fun book. The Star Prophecy was written by a friend of mine, Joan Sowards. It's a tale about a young Nephite’s quest to find the newborn Savior. However, it’s more than a Christmas story. This is a book that can be read, reread and enjoyed any time of the year. For those readers unfamiliar with the term, Nephite, don't worry, just know that it's a description of a group of people who lived on the American continent in ancient times.
Joan tells the account of Enoch and his friends as though intimately familiar with the era, and weaves her tale through both the Book of Mormon and the New Testament’s scriptural accounts of Christ’s birth in such a way that, as a reader, I was convinced it could have happened just as she told it.
Even though they have largely turned wicked, the Nephites have grown up with the prophecies regarding the Savior’s birth. Young Enoch has always dreamed of returning to Jerusalem to see the baby Jesus in person and he begins his preparations as a poor orphan boy of fifteen. The odds against his leaving the land of Zarahemla, paying for a ship large enough to cross the ocean, and actually making the trek alive, are overwhelming. Enoch has never even sailed a ship.
After four years, Enoch receives word that the ship he commissioned to be built is finished. The shipbuilder Omnihah was trained by Hagoth of old who, it’s recorded in the Book of Mormon, built large ships and took several expeditions across the sea.
Enoch knows that according to Samuel the Lamanite’s prophecy, only one year remains before the Savior’s birth, and he prepares for his voyage. Enoch’s mission to find the Savior is not without sacrifice. He leaves the drunkard uncle who raised him, hoping the man will be safe while he’s gone. He leaves the woman he loves, hoping she’ll wait for him, and he sets sail with only a few friends and his faith that the Lord will guide them to Jerusalem and safely back.
Once he and his comrades set sail, Enoch’s little brother nearly drowns while trying to swim to the ship so that he can go with them. Then, they discover a young man accused of murder has stowed away in order to avoid prosecution.
The Star Prophecy is full of interesting details that bring this story to life, such as customs of the time, the foods they ate, and their experiences aboard the ship. As the travelers come to various islands and then to the land of Jerusalem, they and the people are described in such a way that I felt as though I was standing in the distance and watching the story unfold. Enoch’s quest became my quest and I felt his confusion and disappointment when they arrived in Jerusalem only to discover that no one there knew of Christ’s birth.
Through perseverance and talking to those who are lowly of heart, they discover that the Savior has indeed been born, and is in Bethlehem. They wonder, as does their shepherd-guide, why baby Jesus was allowed to be born in such humble circumstances and not a kingly palace, and they are filled with awe and reverence when Mary allows them to hold her Holy child.
As I read this story, I found many parallels between Enoch’s life and the lives we live today. It reaffirmed to me that people, no matter when they’re born, all have similar fears and feelings as we do—that living in a wicked world is perilous no matter the era, and that the opportunity for hazard when we trust the wrong people is an ageless dilemma.
The Star Prophecy by Joan Sowards is written as an adventure by a young man who just happens to have lived anciently. It isn’t preachy or doctrinal, yet I found that reading it was a profound experience. I highly recomend it as a gift for Christmas, birthdays, or for any occasion where you'd like to say, "I love you" with a good book.