“Safe journey my daughter. God be with you! And Joseph, you take care of my Mary. Oh what a shame, so far from home! What if the baby comes?” Tears fell as the grandmother in waiting kissed her young pregnant daughter good bye. This isn’t the way things are done. Who will give comfort and assist with the birth, with Mary so far from home?
Only half a day’s journey till lodging is found in Bethlehem. It might as well be an eternity as the early pains of first born labor begin. Every movement of the donkey sends sharp stabs of agony through Mary’s heavy body.
She sighs as fear, discomfort, and loneliness envelops her. All her plans for the traditional birth: the presence of her loving mother for comfort, the experienced hands of her aunt, turned midwife, and the anticipated celebration of close kin and friends, all washed away by the great tide of a governmental census. “Oh Jehovah, this is Your Son, and I am Your maidservant. Let it be to me according to Your Word.”
Joseph’s head aches with the tumultuous thoughts that war with his faith. “This is of the Holy Spirit. Jehovah, help my anxious unbelief. How am I going to deliver your Baby? This is a woman’s job. I am unqualified. How am I to raise Your Son, my Messiah? I am a sinner, unholy and unworthy of such a task. God of Wisdom, help this lowly servant know Your ways as I care for my wife and this newborn Christ Child.’
Hours later the young couple collapse on the only floor available in Bethlehem. The delivery of Mary’s first child is immediate and the delivery room far from clean.
“Oh God, my Father, I am so scared! The pain is overwhelming I don’t think I can do this. The smells in this stable make me wretch. God, this is Your Son, He deserves a clean bed. Ooohh, it hurts, oohh help me! Your time is only moments away. Your grand entry into humanity…..You deserve more than this place!” Mary cried out in prayer.
“Mary, look at my eyes, Know that I am here and I love you. Focus on God, Mary, you can do this.” Joseph’s ashen face betrays the confidence he speaks. He silently prays for Divine help in this hay filled nursery.
“Oh Joseph, I have to push. Oh Joseph, it hurts…I want to stop. I am so tired….”
“One more time Mary. Give one more push. Praise be to God! Oh Mary! Oh what a miracle. Oh my son! Oh Mary, He is perfect. Hallelujah!”
The precious squalling of the newborn Child pierces the once silent night. The donkey that traveled the Bethlehem road looks up at the noisy cry. All creation will worship this King. Somehow the donkey knows.
She lies back in Joseph’s arms nursing her priceless miracle. Her Messiah. Soft gulping comes from the hungry infant wrapped snugly in rough swaddling fabric. “No place on earth I would rather be dear Father! Thank You for this unspeakable gift. My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.”
The donkey gets up, disturbed by the approaching foot steps. Startled, the slumbering Joseph is fully awake, as voices echo into the cave. “Who are you? You are not welcome here!”
The torchlight flickered over the rough countenance of a man. He reverently fell to his knees and spoke in an awestruck whisper, “We have come to worship the Christ.” As if moved by the hand of God Himself, Joseph stepped aside and let the ragged shepherds enter heaven in cave. The men fell face first in adoration to the floor of the filthy stable. Before them lay their King of kings, peacefully sleeping in a manger of hay. As inconceivable as it seemed, every whispered breath praised Jehovah for this perfect birthplace. No where on earth was better, for love and humility mixed with the harmonious music of nature filled the damp room.
“Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace, good will, towards men. It was the most remarkable event in my life, until this moment. Who would believe a chorus of angels appeared to me, a shepherd? But I would not have believed my Savior and Lord had come tonight except for such a visitation. Praise be to God. A lowly fool as I, have had the privilege to worship my King only moments after His arrival. Oh I am so undeserving. Praise to Jehovah. Thank You….Praise you….” Tears fell unashamedly from the eyes of the shepherd, as they entered the Holy of holies and worshiped the Promised One.
The serenity returned to the stable as once again, Mary and Joseph were left alone to ponder the moments and miracle they held in their arms. Nothing is as beautiful as a sleeping infant; but nothing was as unfathomable as the swaddled God. The Creator caressed by the hands of the created. Silence was the only fitting music as Mary and Joseph adored their King. For words can never five melodies to the orchestra of praise that filled heaven and hearts that first Christmas day. And His name shall be called Jesus, for He will save His people from their sin.
Written by Mary Selby, for my children December 2000.