They arrived in Bethlehem late that evening. Stars filled the sky like diamonds exploding across the expanse. Before entering the city, Mary noticed a flock of sheep in the fields. Many were sleeping, but the shepherds took turns watching them and making sure they were safe from any predators. One of the young herders was playing on his flute as another tended the campfire. It was anything but a typical night in the area. The town was filled with strangers. Some came early in the week and made use of this time to reunite with relatives. There were many who came to be counted for the census, so there were no accommodations left for latecomers.
Joseph knocked urgently on the door of the inn. His betrothed, Mary was about to give birth any minute, but the innkeeper told him they had no more vacancies. The innkeeper’s wife looked on. She took pity on the pregnant woman. She knew what it was like to go through the birthing process. She felt sympathy for the young couple but realized that the only place for them to stay was the stable out behind the inn.
Cam you imagine? A stable where animals rested. A birthing place for new lambs and calves would be the delivery room for the Lamb of God. It seemed so unfair, so humiliating, so wrong, but the couple knew they had no choice. I wonder what was going through Mary’s mind as the first contraction occurred. She must have felt somewhat abandoned even with Joseph at her side, but then she remembered the announcement to her nine months ago. Words that she had held in her heart for the entire time. God, the true Father of that soon to be child, would be with her as well. Through every step of the journey, He was with them. He protected them from harm and danger. He kept the unborn child safely tucked in Mary’s womb. He was there for each of the pains that began to plague her, right through the delivery of this perfect infant.
So many things had to be going through the couple’s minds. How would they provide for this new life? Why did God’s own Son have to be born in such a way.? What would His future hold? How could Mary savor the moments of holding a newborn without some kind of trepidation. When Jesus was born, she snuggled Him in strips of cloth. Like most new moms, she checked His fingers and toes. She pressed Him against her breast to nurse. There in the dark, dank and smelly stable, the Son of God rested in His Father’s arms too. Joseph also marveled at the provision made for this special event, but Mary tucked each little nugget into her heart for future remembrance.
He didn’t come in glory, but God, the Father was at His side from the very beginning of Jesus’ human existence. When I was a child, I thought the word “ponder” referred to pounding something. Maybe that’s exactly what Mary did that night. She pounded everything into her heart to save it for the years to come. May we also pound this exceptional event into our hearts as a reminder of what was to come – the salvation of mankind.
I love this!
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