December 24

            What a night this has been. People coming from everywhere, looking for rooms. All because the Romans declared a census and everybody had to return to his hometown. I’d like to catch the guy who okayed that. It’s enough to drive a poor innkeeper such as myself crazy.
            Well, anyway, my inn is full to bursting, when along comes this bedraggled looking couple, she on a donkey and very much pregnant. They want a room. I have to tell them I don’t have any more rooms to spare. He looks very downcast, thanks me, and turns away into the night. I kicked myself mentally, but what could I do? I had nothing to offer them… except… I called to the man and said, “Look, it’s true that I have no rooms left at the inn, but I do have a stable. I know it’s not much, but it has plenty of straw, and at least your wife will be somewhat comfortable.” The man – I later learned his name was Joseph – thanked me, and I led them back to the stable. They settled down for the night.
            Later on, just as I was about turn in for the night, I heard a commotion out near the stable. It looked as though everybody and his brother was crowding around the door. I went out to investigate, and saw shepherds there – I don’t remember how many – looking in something approaching reverence as they gathered. I asked one of them what brought them here, and he told me a wild tale about an angel suddenly appearing to them as they were tending their sheep and announcing to them that the long-foretold Messiah had been born, and that they were to look for a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.

            The Messiah has been born? Could that really be true? I had to see for myself. I squeezed myself past the throng in the door, and there was the baby, just as the shepherd had said. A baby boy. I asked what his name was, and his mother – her name was Mary – replied, “Jesus.” I am not given to imagination, but I would state before the high priest’s court that when I first looked down at the baby, he smiled at me. And that’s when I knew. What the shepherd had told me was no wild tale. It was true. Our Messiah – our Deliverer – has been born. May Yahweh ever be praised!

No comments: