The Story of Christmas

This year, as I have been contemplating Christmas, I have been putting what I know of giving birth into the Christmas story. I can’t imagine being in a strange town without my doctor and parents. Of course, having both of my babies in a hospital, can’t imagine giving birth anywhere else. And with the cleanliness practices of the hospital, even the idea of giving birth where animals have been is appalling. Yet, this is the environment in which Mary gave birth.
Below is the Christmas story as found in Luke 2:1-20. As you read this familiar story, try to imagine what it may have been like to be Mary. You may have to imagine a little bit between the lines. Imagine being in a strange town without your support system – doctor, family, friends. Imagine what it might have been like to wrap your newborn, not in the hospital blanket or carefully chosen baby clothes, but swaddling cloths of Mary’s day. Imagine placing your newborn in an animal feed trough, not a bassinet or crib. Maybe even imagine a curious animal or two sniffing the new baby. Imagine a visit by complete strangers. Let the story come to life.

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”

And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

– Luke 2:1-20 ESV