Greatest Story Ever Told

It was not unusual for the Romans to issue sudden and inconvenient decrees but this one came at the very wrong time. Mary was pregnant, heavily. She did not want to take the journey but Joseph insisted. Bethlehem was very far away but they were close now. She could see the town ahead. She had never longed more for a comfortable bed for her back. She looked at Joseph trudging on beside the donkey. He never complained but she knew even he was tired too.
“At the pace we came, we may be among the first to get here.” She said.
“What?” Joseph looked at her. He apparently was lost in thought.
“I said we would be among the first people to arrive in Bethlehem at this pace.”
He laughed. “My dear, Bethlehem by now is full. Everybody wants to get in and get out fast.”
She nodded and concentrated on her big belly. She had often wondered how a child grew inside a woman. Could the child hear them? Could it tell that its mother was scared? This baby was supposed to be special, the saviour was what the angel called him. She was not sure what that was exactly but she was determined to do her best. The child would be born properly. She would have the best midwives around. She had been making beautiful little clothes for him.
If she was having a special child, he would have a special birth. She would make sure of it.
She looked up, Bethlehem was close. The baby could come here. She immediately shook the thought off her mind. The baby could not come here. She did not know any midwives here. And all her baby clothes were back at home. Joseph will sort the census business out as soon as they could and they would return home where their baby would be born.
“We are close now dear.” Joseph said. “If only there was a way I could check for any available hotels in Bethlehem without having to go around the city.”
Mary laughed. “That will be witchcraft.”
“Don’t blame me for dreaming Mary. Can you imagine if there was a way I could call for a carriage from here without raising my voice? Or if I can talk to my family from here no matter how far they are?”
“That will definitely make things easier.” Mary said with a smile.
“Aah, let’s quit dreaming. Thinking of all of these is like thinking of man flying.”
“Man flying, isn’t that…” Mary started but stopped. She let out a small groan.
“Are you okay?” Joseph asked.
“I’m fine, I think. But I’m tired. How long do we have to go?”
“I wanted us to stay in an Inn close to father’s house but if you’re tired, we will stay in one closer to the gate of the town.”
“That will be a great idea. I’m sorry we have to spend more.”
Mary kept her eyes on the road as they got closer to Bethlehem keeping her mind from the pain she had felt a few minutes before. Whatever it was, it had not come back. She really wanted a bed.
“We are just two minutes out, my dear.” Joseph.
The pain hit her again, this time it hit harder. Joseph saw her face contort as she tried to keep the pain in.
“Mary, are you okay?” He asked.
“Yes, I am…aargh!” She could not hold it this time. The scream escaped her mouth.
“What’s happening?” Joseph was running from side to side.
“This cannot be happening.” Mary whispered through clenched teeth. “Not now. Not here.”
“Talk to me Mary, what is going on?” She could see Joseph was in full panic mode now.
“Nothing is happening, just get us a room.”
“Okay, I will.” He said and started to run towards the city.
“Wait!” Mary shouted. “Don’t leave me here on the road.”
He ran back. “I’m sorry.”
He held her hand and poked the donkey. It started to move a little faster but even the poor beast was tired from the journey.
They entered the gates and Joseph was right, Bethlehem was filled with people.
“I will go get a room for us right there.” Joseph said, pointing to a house up ahead. “Wait here.”
He ran off and soon disappeared into the Inn. Mary looked down her legs and gasped. Her water had broken. It was really happening. She wanted to shout for help but no, she wouldn’t. Her baby was not going to be born like this. Where was Joseph?
She breathed in and out very slowly. She did not make a sound, she did not want to draw any attention to herself. But she was barely hanging on, the pain was worse now and coming more frequently.
Joseph arrived at her side, breathless. “My dear, we need to move to another Inn, this one is full.”
He pushed the donkey and they began to move. Mary hung on, not making a sound. He was too busy looking around to notice her. Finally she could not take it anymore.
“Joseph.” She said as loud as he clenched teeth could allow her.
He looked at her and he gasped.
“You are not okay Mary.” He looked at her hand on her belly. “Are you…?”
“Yes! The baby is coming!”
“We need to find a good place, the Inns here are too poor for a baby.”
“Find me any room, the baby is ready to come.”
“Okay, okay my dear. We also need midwives. Jehovah help us. Where do I find midwives now?”
“Joseph, just find me a room first!”
“Okay.” he said and ran off.
Mary groaned, she couldn’t keep the pain in anymore. The baby was coming anytime now. Just then the donkey started to move. She wanted to stop it but she was spending all her energy to keep from screaming. It continued to move but she could not see where it was going. Where was Joseph?
The stench hit her nose then she saw where the donkey was taking her.
“Mary.” She heard Joseph call.
She struggled to get her hand up and she heard steps heading towards her. She felt his hand grasp her and the donkey stopped.
“Did you find…?” She started to ask.
“No Mary, there are no rooms in the Inn here. They say all the Inns are booked full all over Bethlehem.”
Mary felt tears roll down her face. She could not tell if it was because of the pain she felt or because she now knew her dream birth for her son would not happen.
“What do we do now Mary?” Joseph was as broken as she was.
She opened her eyes through the tears and looked in front of her.
“Let’s go inside.” She said.
“Inside where?”
“The stable.”
Joseph released her hand and walked to the stable. He looked inside and came back to her.
“There’s no way I’m letting you in there, talk more of having a baby in there.” He said.
“This baby is coming in a couple of minutes. I can have the baby in the shelter of the stable or on the sidewalks here.”
“Mary, the stable is for animals.”
“Joseph please.”
He sighed and went off again. This time he entered the stable and stayed for what looked like years. He still was not coming out yet. The donkey moved again. It got to the entrance of the stable and stopped. Joseph came out of the stable and ran into the donkey. He steadied himself, reached for Mary and carried her off the donkey.
“I cannot believe we are having this special child in a stable.” Joseph said.
Mary smiled and said. “I cannot believe I’m having this special child at all.”
***
Mary wiped her brow with her sleeves and collected the child from Joseph.
“I’m very sorry I could not provide more than a manger to lay him.” He said.
Mary did not respond, her eyes were glued to the baby. She was actually holding the child that would rescue the world and bring salvation to her people. He was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. This was God’s son? She was holding the messiah?
“I expected the son of God to come in a better way.” She said.
“He is the son of God, it does not matter how he came. The fact that he came alone is enough.”
Mary looked at her husband and back at the baby. He was right. She had been given the greatest gift anyone could give. The world had been given the greatest gift it could be given.
The question was, will the world recieve him?
***
Jesus is the greatest gift of Christmas, I hope you recieve him. Merry Christmas!

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