Saturday, December 24, 2016
Saturday Sermonette - Christmas Eve
And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.
Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. Luke 2:1-6, NKJV
Sometimes I wonder why the Bible left out so many details. Having gone through childbirth myself, I can't imagine Mary riding a donkey (like you see in the likenesses) when she's between eight and nine months along. So--ladies--how would you have liked to ride a donkey or hike a hundred miles at that stage? Did they come in early for the census? Or did she and Joseph decide to wait until after the baby was born (could even have been a few weeks) to travel any farther than they had to? A healthy man could probably have made it in four or five days, but a heavily pregnant woman? Not likely.
Did they find a midwife? Joseph wasn't really likely to have helped with the birthing, and Mary wasn't probably feeling up to being her own birth assistant. Come on, Luke, give us some details!
So this is how I picture it.
"Joseph, please, I don't even care if we have to make a lean-to, this babe isn't going to wait for us to go back to Jerusalem. Mother told us before we left that He could be birthed at any time, and it's time."
"But the innkeeper said he didn't have any common rooms left, let alone private ones. What choice to we have? All he had otherwise is in the stable with the lifestock."
"That will have to do. What I'm telling you, husband, is that I think I'm in need of a midwife now."
"Yes, now. I---oohhhhhh, my back!"
"What? Your back? I thought it was your stomach that was supposed to hurt."
"I don't know. This is my first one, remember? All I know is this really tight backache came and left. Anyhow, would you see if the innkeeper knows of a midwife?"
"This is so embarrassing. This isn't the normal guy thing, you know. So here's the stable. Not too bad, as far as stables go. They must have put in fresh straw this afternoon."
Mary grabbed her abdomen for about a slow count of twenty-five. It wouldn't be long now.
"Yes. Go! Please, husband!"
Joseph nodded white-faced and trotted out the broad entryway.
Pausing when the pains gripped her, Mary tied the donkey to a post and spread out the blanket. With a sigh that evolved into a clenched-teeth groan, she laid herself down just as Joseph returned.
"The innkeeper's wife will be here in just a few minutes. I guess that's her other occupation, along with cooking and cleaning."
Mary couldn't help it. She let out a yell that had the donkey, cows, and camels looking for a way out of there.
The innkeeper's wife came in, wide-eyed. She crooked an eyebrow at Joseph. "What are you doing in here? This is no place for a man."
"I agree. I'm leaving. Be back in an hour or two."
"He says your name is Mary, right?"
Mary nodded, biting her lip to keep from screaming.
"Well, I'm Naomi. We'll have this Babe out in no time at all."
Mary nodded again. "I know-ow-ow-ow-owwwwww!"
Naomi was right. In an hour they had the sweet baby Boy wrapped in old soft, but clean rags, nestled in her arms and suckling. Mary's eyes drooped. She was so very tired; she thought she could sleep forever.
"So, little Mary, all you need to remember is even in your sleep, you must listen for Him. He will want to eat often. You don't need me any more, and I'm going back to the inn to take care of the rest of the crowd that arrived this week. Tell your husband to come after me if you have any difficulties. All right?"
"Yes, madam. Thank you for all you've done."
"Of course. Goodbye, then." She bustled out the door with a quick flip of her hand.
Joseph returned, and he gazed at the infant with awe. "The Son of God. And He chose us to raise Him. Why us?"
"I don't know, husband. I've asked the same question so many times." She paused. "Do you think we could stay here in Bethlehem for a time? Between pains, I asked Naomi if they could use a carpenter, and she said yes."
And so it went. They stayed in Bethlehem for a few weeks anyway.
I know, there's a lot more to the story--tune in again next week.