Friday, December 19, 2008

The Night Before Xmas, Scene 5: The Birth of Jesus

Something was obviously bothering Lori. She wandered over to the window and stared out at the ice and snow. “So, you say Mary was happy about having this baby? That makes no sense. I bet everyone said mean things about her. It had to be embarrassing. Think about it. Would anyone believe that story?”

Nodding, the old man said, “I am sure that you are right. But Mary did what God said even if it was hard. She wanted to honor the Lord even if it caused her problems. She knew that the baby was the one whom God had promised, who would knock down the wall that separated man from God. She was willing to do it for the glory of God.”

Stevie stared at him with narrowed eyes. “Mister, are you making this up?”

“No, Stevie. It really happened, just like I am telling you.”

“What did Joseph think? Was he mad?” asked Becky.

“At first, he was very upset. Like everyone else, he did not believe Mary’s story about angels and the Holy Spirit and the Messiah. He decided that he would not marry her.”

“You can’t blame him, can you?” observed Lori. “Even Stevie wouldn’t make up a story like that.”

“I’m sure he wouldn’t. But God took care of Mary. Joseph was also visited by an angel in a dream, and God told him that Mary’s story was true and that he should take Mary as his wife. And that is what he did. You see, Joseph loved God, too. He did what God said, and they started making plans for the day when the baby would come. Then, one day, they heard something that made them very sad. The Emperor made a decree that everyone in the Roman Empire was to be counted and taxed.”

Stevie was nodding. “I’ll be he was mad. You should hear the things daddy says when he is paying his taxes.”

Laughing, the visitor said, “I can only imagine. But you see, there was a greater problem. To be counted, everyone had to go to the place that their ancestors came from. That meant that Joseph and Mary had to travel all the way to Bethlehem, where their ancestor David came from. And there were no cars back then.”

“No cars? How did they get there?”

“Well, Stevie, they had to walk, or ride on the back of donkeys.”

“Wow” exclaimed Becky. “I wouldn’t like that.”

Lori, still standing at the window, added, “And she was about to have a baby. That could not have been easy.”

“It was a very difficult trip for Mary. And it only got harder. When they arrived at Bethlehem, it was bustling with activity. Normally, a sleepy little village, it was packed with descendents of David waiting to be counted.” Every room at the inn was full. There was no place for Joseph and Mary to stay the night.”

“What did they do?” Becky was deeply concerned.

“The innkeeper helped them out. He let them stay in the stable behind the inn.”

This upset Lori. “With cows and goats and stuff?”

“That’s right.”

“It must have stunk,” Stevie observed.

“Again, we will have to leave that to our imaginations, but at least it protected them from the elements, it was warm and dry. As they were getting settled, it became clear that the baby was coming.”

This was too much for Lori. “Are you telling me that the Son of God was born in a barn?” She flopped back on the couch.

“That is what I am saying. He was born there, wrapped in tight cloths and laid in a manger.”

“What’s a manger,” asked Becky.

“It is where they put the animals’ food, a feeding trough.”

“Like our dog’s food bowl?”

“Yes, Stevie, only much bigger.”

Lori was having trouble letting go of this. “It just doesn’t seem right. If he was God’s son, he should have been born in a palace or something, not a smelly barn.”

“You must remember Lori, why he came. He left heaven and came to earth to be one of us. He came humble and poor, not proud and rich. And on that lovely night, God came to earth in a human body. Let me tell you, the world has never been the same since.”

A thought crossed Lori’s mind that raised her spirits. It is wonderful to hold a baby in your arms. But think how great it would be to hold one and know that he was the Son of God. I wish I could have been there.”

“Me, too,” chimed in Becky.

“Yeah,” Stevie agreed.

“Yes, children. It was a day that changed the world."

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head.
The stars in the sky looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the Baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes;
I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray;
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care,
And fit us for Heaven to live with Thee there.

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