Summer had been hot. Rain had not nourished the land since well after the spring harvest. The breeze coming off the sea was a bit cooler now with Autumn’s arrival to bring some relief. Being great with child made tolerance of the balmy weather additionally difficult. While it would have been nice to relax on the knoll with the slight breeze coming up from the sea, there were supplies to be packed for the journey. She wanted to linger, but there was much to be done.
Early next morning, the large group of travelers set out toward their ancestral home, as was required, her husband included, to be in attendance for the census in their home town. As his betrothed, the young mother-to-be must register as well. Leaving the village her mind made record of the things packed, wondering what may have been forgotten. Taking a mental inventory helped take her mind off the concerned look on her parents face as she departed.
Her mother desperately tried to hide her feelings. She knew how difficult, and dangerous, the travel would be in her daughter’s advanced state, concerned for both mother and child. Her heart was heavy knowing her grandchild would be born in a home not her own, unable to be there to help her daughter. Knowing the pair traveled with friends to her son-in-law’s family, somewhat eased her worries as she also prepared to travel with her husband to his families town.
The young girl's father knew in his heart his daughters betrothed was a good man, who loved his daughter deeply. After all, he could have condemned her when he was told she was expecting, but he was a man of honor and was committed to their marriage. Standing strong at Natser’s gate with his wife, they waved with forced smiles until the group was out of sight.
The young husband’s family was originally from a small town outside the city. A stone mason by training, he was strong with large, rough hands with which he shaped large stones for Herod’s building program, although tenderhearted toward his young bride. He regretted she had to travel so far in her current condition, but he also trusted this was part of Elohim’s greater plan for the coming child.
The journey was normally a four days walk, but soon they fell behind the others because the young mother tired quickly and needed to rest more frequently. As the young couple approached the small village, they passed people camped along the road between the village and the city on the hill. Her husband grew concerned about a place for them to stay, but believed his family would be willing to help them find a place to rest. Finally, they entered the village and jostled through the narrow streets full of trailers toward his relative’s home.
A lamp illuminated the courtyard as the pair approached. As he gently held his bride’s arm, the family quickly encircled the weary travelers offering cushions, bread and figs. Unfortunately, the kataluma (Greek for guest rooms, place to eat or lodge, often on the roof) was already occupied by those who had arrived the day before.
The young mother was exhausted, and the other women understood the urgency to find a place for her to rest. After some discussion, the only available space that offered any privacy was the phatne (Greek, stall). Considering it was past the Spring, the ewes with their lambs would be in the fields. The birthing stalls would be empty, clean, provide protection from the elements, just what was needed.
The women prepared for the coming birth, gathering supplies, washing her face, hands and feet while the men went ahead to prepare the space with fresh straw and using blankets to make a soft place for the young mother. There was much to do, the baby would soon arrive.
And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. Luke 2:3-7 NIV
Abba Father, Your love for us far exceeds our comprehension. For You so loved us that You sent Your One and Only Son into this world so we might be saved. We are grateful for our families lovingly sacrifice to care for us. Even when our earthly families short, Your love never fails to provide everything we need in other ways. Teach us to be generous, compassionate and demonstrate genuine concern for others. May we keep loving one another as brothers and sisters, to not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it (Hebrews 13:1-2). Fulfilling the needs of others may actually be more of a blessing to us than to those receiving our gifts. Love is the only thing that when given away creates more than was given. We thank you Father for Your faithfulness and Your priceless gift of love as we anticipate the celebration of Jesus' birth.
We praise you Father, Son and Holy Spirit in One. Amen