The young woman sat and gathered her racing thoughts. It had been an unexpected and momentous afternoon, one she could never have foreseen. Who was she that this should happen to her? She was a little anxious about breaking the news to her intended and not at all sure how he would take it. She pressed a hand to her stomach trying to imagine a picture of herself in days to come but it would not come to mind.
When Mary told Joseph what had happened he looked at her doubtfully to begin with but seeming to come to a decision he held her in a loose embrace and said “Darling girl, don’t worry, we’ll get through this. I’ll stand by you”. She failed to see the shadow pass over his face as he contemplated how he could divorce her quietly.
Some months later they were on their way to his home town to sort out some maddening beaurocracy that had to be done in person and to attend a family get together of some of his more curious relatives. Thankfully worry over the census had stilled the tongue of any would be gossips over her condition.
Joseph was frantic. Mary was very near her time and they couldn’t find any where to stay. There literally was no room at the inn. She’d been very patient and even taken the donkey ride in her stride but he could see the panic was beginning to set in. He looked at her tenderly as she sat seemingly in pain and oblivious to her surroundings. In that moment he knew he was responsible for her, he loved her, he could never abandon her or the child she carried. The dream he’d had a few days previously had only served to reinforce that.
At almost the very last minute someone had taken pity on Mary and told them of a stable they could use for the time being. They would have to share it with the animals but that was the least of their concerns. Many hours later Joseph was bemused to be sitting in the straw with a newborn babe in his arms. He had a new admiration for his young wife. The baby was wrapped up in a swaddling robe and his rosebud mouth was slightly pursed as he slept looking for all the world as if he was dreaming of his kingdom.
Joseph knew his life would no longer be anonymous, it would be open to public scrutiny. He thought he was prepared. He trusted God. If He could bring about this miracle of birthing a Saviour surely he could take care of the rest of their lives.
Already his life had changed beyond recognition. He thought they had done rather well with their unannounced visitors when they had shown up an hour ago. He’d persuaded the stable boy to run over to a market stall and procure some refreshments. But he hadn’t been expecting royalty after the humble shepherds had left rejoicing at the sight of the baby. Grown men had wept, hardened shepherds who were used to rough conditions had gazed on the lad with a look of hope dawning in their eyes. The musty smell of the stable seemed to fade away and even the animals were reverently silent. The shepherds had told of another miraculous event of a host of angels appearing in the night sky singing Alleluia and proclaiming glory to God.
The angel Gabriel hd directed them to follow the bright shining star hanging in the East to where they would find the Saviour.
Joseph had just closed the stable door on them when it was rudely thrust open again by a herald announcing the arrival of 3 kings. They didn’t even stop to acknowledge Joseph and Mary until after they had bowed in worship to the baby and presented him with gifts that Joseph was slightly puzzled by if he was honest. Obviously the gold would be very helpful in the future but he wasn’t sure why they had brought Myrrh and Frankincense. If he didn’t know better he would have said they were burial spices but who would bring those to a new-born baby? Perhaps it was a tradition in their country.
As they were speaking with Mary and Joseph they asked what the baby’s name would be. Names were a very important part of their culture and were another kind of gift to be bestowed.
“Jesus”. Mary said “He’s called Jesus” and as a shudder went through her she clasped him to her tightly as if she would not let go and kissed him gently.