The caravan moved slowly up toward Jerusalem. It had been a long journey from Galilee through Samaria. We could not travel very fast because of the young, pregnant woman. Most of the caravan stopped in Jerusalem. We, however, had a few more miles to go to get to our ancestral home of Bethlehem.
We entered the town and located the home of Joseph’s cousin. Entering, we greeted those already gathered. “Shalom! Baruch hashem Adonai!” “Peace! Bless the name of the Lord!” Unpacking our donkeys, we noticed that there were a lot of people already present. It seems that the whole clan had answered Caesar’s demand that we return for this census. Joseph helped Mary up to the living quarters while I got fodder for the donkeys. As I turned to climb the stairs I saw Joseph gesturing angrily.
“No guest room?! My wife is going to give birth at any moment! You must make room for her and the child!”
“No, we cannot. There are too many people. We cannot have one room given to her alone.”
“Wait,” one of Joseph’s aunts said. “We can fix a place for her down below. There is plenty of fresh straw. And, we can put blankets down to help make her more comfortable.”
Mary, being young and new to the family looked at Joseph and nodded. She was already suspect, being pregnant already. She did not want to give the family any more reason to look down on her.
Evening came. Mary was having contractions every few minutes. One of the aunts acted as midwife. They made Mary as comfortable as possible.
Joseph was upstairs with the rest of the family. He was pacing the floor. One cousin scolded him, “Sit down and relax! Everything will be fine. This is not the first child ever born!”
But, everyone knew that many first pregnancies did not end well. Especially, when the mother was as young as Mary. In addition, both Joseph and Mary were anxious about the child. That strange man that had appeared nine months ago had said some very strange things about this child. As the birth drew near, the young parents wondered what kind of creature was about to enter their world.
It seemed as though Mary had been laboring for hours. With a final push the child arrived. With a cry, the child took his first breath. The midwife lifted the child and tied off the umbilicus.
“It’s a boy!”
Joseph gave a sigh of relief. The others began to pour bowls of wine and a party celebrating the birth of a first-born son began. They sang and danced and drank. When Mary was cleaned up and the child wrapped in clean cloths, Joseph was summoned to come down. He looked compassionately at Mary. She was so strong and brave…no longer a child. Joseph reached into the feeding trough in which his newborn son had been laid. He picked him up.
“My son, Yeshua!”
A little later I looked up and saw a small group of people entering the house. By the staves that they were carrying I could tell that they were shepherds.
“Who let this rabble in?” I thought. Shepherds were not usually welcome among respectable people. They walked over to where the child lay sleeping.
“We were out in the field tending the sheep. Suddenly, there was a great light in the sky! We feared that something was going to take our sheep and harm us! Then, we heard a voice saying that a child had been born…here…in Bethlehem. The voice said that this child is the Messiah who we have been waiting for!”
Another shepherd spoke up saying, “Then there was a great host praising God! They gave God glory and said that peace was to reign between God and those whom God favors!”
We poured bowls of wine for the shepherds and continued to celebrate throughout the night.
However, Mary had a puzzled look on her face. She said nothing.!
May God Bless you all and Merry Christmas