The clock has swung around into Christmas Day on this side of the world, and I'm heading for bed after one of the most beautiful Christmas Parties that we've ever had. Flowers, food, candles, lights, singing.
I thought I'd share the little Christmas Story that I wrote and read aloud tonight.
All love and blessing to you. Here you are...
A Christmas Story
There was once a pregnant girl named Mary, who lived in a tiny place in what had become the Roman Empire. Their little country had never been as great as Babylon, as rich as Persia, or as powerful as Rome, but it was the one where an angel had come, to tell Mary that God’s Son would come to spend time as a man on earth. Mary was going to be His mother. So even though their country was so little, it was about to become great.
Mary got married to a very nice man named Joseph, who was willing to live with the odd circumstance of a baby who had been put in her womb by God. Just like that, miraculously.
At the time of this story, Mary was right at the end of her pregnancy and was feeling big and clumsy, telling everyone that this baby had better come quick or she didn’t know what she’d do, when the Caesar decided he wanted to count everyone in his big powerful empire.
It was terrible timing, but part of being a little country in a big fat empire is that you don’t get to argue back. Mary and Joseph had to travel to Joseph’s birthplace to be counted. It was not a comfortable trip, but she was a strong girl who was used to hauling water and pounding grain and eventually, they arrived in Bethlehem, which was called the City of David.
Arrived… and went from guest house to guest house, looking for a place. They had their bags and Mary’s feet were incredibly swollen and all she wanted was a place to lie down, but everything was full. Finally one guest house owner took pity on them and said they could sleep in his stable out back. It had a grass roof and there were bugs that dropped on them as well as a cow that made really loud mooing noises, but Mary didn’t complain because she had been having contractions for about an hour, and from everything she’d ever heard she knew she was going to have the baby soon.
It was just the two of them in a dark and smelly stable and Mary’s mother was far away, in Nazareth. It wasn’t at all the way they’d planned it. The baby boy was born and Mary held him close while Joseph went to ask for some warm water so that they could wash the tired Mama and baby. Mary nursed him and then wrapped him in her shawl and laid him in the feed trough, which was filled with clean hay. His first food, and first bed. God, in the plan that had been swirling through the universe for years, now come to earth.
Meanwhile. There were shepherds on a scrubby hilltop nearby, resting after another day of chasing sheep. They were dirty and tired, happy to be resting after a long, hot day, except for the grumpy one who was almost never happy. There was also a guy with a camel that they had met that afternoon. He was just hanging out.
Suddenly, the sky filled with light. The shepherds almost wet their pants. They had never seen anything like it. As their eyes got used to the light they could pick out the form of huge flaming person, which didn’t seem safe or normal at all. Thankfully the flaming person spoke, with a voice that echoed off the hillsides. “Don’t be afraid,” the flaming guy said. “I’m a messenger from God.”
“That’s reassuring,” thought one of the shepherds, still shaking. He noticed that the messenger seemed to be incredibly excited. He was talking too loud.
“I’m here to tell you something that makes all of us practically burst with joy. This story, that God is writing now, is better news than you have ever heard before, and it’s for all the people on the whole earth.”
“The earth?” thought the shepherd.
“Today, in the City of David, a Rescuer has been born. He is the anointed Ruler. Go find him! You’ll be the first. You’ll find him wrapped up in cloth, lying in a feed trough.”
Suddenly, the light around the messenger shifted and danced and formed into thousands of other flaming people sweeping across the sky and making it brighter than daylight. Music that made the shepherd’s body tingle came from their mouths. They said, “Glory to the Great Creator in the very Highest place, and on earth, deep and lasting peace among all people.”
And they disappeared. The shepherds sat up and stared at one another.
Finally, one spoke. “Did he say a feed trough?”
And another said, “That was weird. But it was definitely, definitely God who sent that guy. But let’s go see it!”
And then they jumped up and ran. No one remembered inviting the camel guy, but he came with them, pulling his camel along behind him. They ran and ran, almost afraid it would be too late.
And finally they found a stable that had a man and a tired new mother in it, with a newborn baby sleeping in a feed trough, just like the messenger had said. The baby had his arms flung up over his head, like newborns do when they sleep, and he made noises like a kitten. The shepherds stared. The camel made irritated noises outside, and one shepherd turned around and said shhhhhh.
The shepherds told the new parents what the messenger had told them, about the people on the earth, and the Rescuer and the Ruler that was the one God had promised to send, that the people had almost stopped watching for.
“He said that?” Mary asked again and again, and she thought about these things for years and years after.
All of them, the shepherds and the guy with the camel, and Joseph, and the loud cow, and the guest house owner’s wife who had come to help, all watched the baby sleep, and though they were in a stable with a bunch of cows, they all felt as though they were in a perfect place. They never wanted to leave.
Eventually the shepherds had to go back to their sheep, and they spoke out thanks to God again and again, saying how wonderful he was, and they felt that something very special had just happened, something that bonded them together forever, a story that would be told again, and again, and again.