It was Mary’s joy to be getting married to her fiance Joseph in a couple of months. Preparations were underway. She’d remained pure and was now waiting expectantly for her wedding night, she’d also learnt about Aunty Elizabeth’s pregnancy. She was more than happy. Her Aunt who’d been married for years without any child was now pregnant and she, Mary, was going to be married to one of the most handsome man that ever happened to Nazareth. Life was soooo good. Her faithfulness to God had paid off afterall. The countless times of worship in the temple, the many times she stayed beside her mother learning the ropes of being a woman. She was excited! Her married friends will no longer look at her like a novice, finally she would be able to listen in on the married folks conversations. She was going to be a woman, a woman with responsibility to her husband and children. She would start her own family and have people address her as Mummy-something, no longer Mary. Hopefully Joseph will like the name Mary for their daughter because she’s always wanted to pass on her name, then their son too could bear Joseph so they’ll both be Daddy Joseph and Mummy Mary. Okay that’s just cheesy! But what kind of names will Joseph like? And so for days, after doing what had to be done around the house and fulfilling her temple rites, she’ll spend the early hours of the nighttime wondering what being married was going to be like. Could she handle being married? What would Joseph think of her as a woman? Will he think of her as naive? Although he related with her like someone he wanted to get married to, she couldn’t help but wonder if he really-really wanted her. Aash! Could she trust his heart for her? And why does her mum keep smiling at her like she amuses her anyway? Like, “Is there something I’m missing?” And with those thoughts on her mind, Mary spent most of those nights dreaming of what her life would be as Joseph’s wife.
Joseph who was originally from Bethlehem in Judea but was living in Nazareth had noticed a group of ladies fetching water from a well not too far from where he followed his friends who went to graze their sheeps. Like most Nazarene young ladies with girlish laughter these ladies were laughing over something and stealing glances at the young men not too far off who were grazing their sheeps. Joseph wasn’t a shepherd, infact he was a carpenter but once in a while he would visit his friends while they fed and took care of their sheeps. Joseph was fascinated by how shepherds lived, how they dedicated themselves to the wellbeing of cattles who had no sense of gratitude. If it wasn’t for his craft that he’d mastered so well and come to love, he too would’ve been a shepherd. He’d been talking to his friends as usual when he noticed this smallish lady who was pouring water into the trough for one of the young shepherd. She reminded him of Rebecca. Wasn’t that exactly what Rebecca had done for Abraham’s servant when he went looking for a bride for Abraham’s son Issac? There was something about the way she delicately poured water into the trough that made him want to keep looking at her but of course men in Nazareth didn’t stare rudely at women. This lady poured the water as if she wanted to help lighten the work of the young man, and when she smiled he couldn’t help but smile too, but wait, hope she hadn’t see him? He quickly averted his gaze but resolved that he would know who she was. She was Mary, a humble maidservant who was chaste and dedicated to her Lord and here they were counting months to their wedding.
Then one day Mary came to him with the news of her pregnancy. What?! Pregnant? How? They’d never tried to find out what is beneath each other’s clothes, besides Mary’s over-zealous chaperone would not allow. He couldn’t even give her a peck! They’d both decided according to the custom that they would honour their Lord with their bodies. To say Joseph was devastated would be putting it mildly. What woman could he then trust if he couldn’t trust Mary of all people. She was Mary, like duh! Virgin Mary! So he decided that he would call off the engagement secretly in order to save both of them from the embarrassment. The truth was that even though she’d hurt him, he still loved her enough to protect her from Nazarene gossips.
That night an angel appeared to Joseph and told him that indeed the child that Mary was carrying was of the Holy Spirit. Mary was chaste and blessed among women. The Lord was pleased with her and she would give birth to a son whose name will be Jesus. He would be great and be called the Son of God Most High. He would be king and rule the people of Israel forever and His Kingdom would never end. A welcome relieve because Joseph just couldn’t reconcile Mary with being promiscuous.
About that time, the Emperor Augustus had ordered that a census should be taken all over the town of Bethlehem. Because Mary was engaged to Joseph they both went to Bethlehem with the child Mary was carrying in her womb; by this time she was heavily pregnant with Jesus. When they got to Bethlehem the sun had set, the towns people were asleep and there was no place to stay as people from other places had also come to Bethlehem to be counted. Mary’s contractions were too close together now. She’d endured the pain all evening hoping that upon getting to Bethlehem her baby would have a birth befitting for a king. Her water had broken earlier. On and on they went from house to house searching for a place to stay, even if only to birth her baby. She was to give birth to a king and there was no kingly place let alone a place at all to birth him. The midwives were too far away. Mary had now broken into a sweat, every thought of holding on until somewhere palatable was available was now out of the window, all she wanted was to deliver this baby. Anywhere would do. Soon, a nice enough old man made mention of the only place available being a manger. Good! As long as she didn’t have to endure the pain anymore. God will just have to understand that she was in serious pain! And so on that Christmas evening, through pain, sweat, blood and water, with heavenly hosts singing glory to God, Mary’s first-born son Jesus was born.
How lovely he was to behold. He looked glorious, faultless, and Mary wouldn’t stop looking at him. He was perfect. How was it that she, a humble maiden of the Lord, a very ordinary girl had been chosen among other ladies in Nazareth? She didn’t think she was the prettiest or most faithful. She was just living out what she’d learnt growing up. She would love this baby. Yes, she would. If the Lord had honoured her by making her Jesus’s mother, she too would honour him by loving this little one with everything she had. And as if Joseph knew what she was thinking he nodded and gave her a knowing smile. Ah! The joy of family.
That night in the fields near Bethlehem some shepherds were guarding their sheep and chattering about the goings-on of their time when suddenly an angel appeared and the glory of God flashed around them. They were frightened. Why was it that an angel of the Lord appeared to them? Was the Lord angry with them? Were they going to be struck dead? But the angel assured them that they had no need to fear because he had brought good news to them. He told them that a saviour had been born to them, just as he was saying this, other angels joined him in praising God. It was as if heaven was having a party. They reasoned that indeed this must be a king’s birth. Heaven’s excitement was contagious. After the angels had left, the shepherds proceeded to Bethlehem to find the king who’d been born to them. This was the promised king of Isreal. They were excited and wanted to share the joy with as many people whose path they crossed. The Lord had blessed them with the promise and also honoured them by bringing the news directly to them. Halleluyah! This shepherds found Mary, Joseph and Jesus and told them all that they witnessed, more evidence to Mary that the baby she had was indeed a purposed child.
News about the new-born king spread all over causing such infectious joy in the air, and even though some didn’t know who he was or who he’d been born to, they were comforted by the hope that his birth brought. It was usual in the months following Jesus’s birth to see women dancing on the streets of Bethlehem. No sooner will another hear her reason for dancing will that one too start dancing. The joy that filled the air was almost touchable. Mothers twirled their children in a dance. The men laughed boisterously and went to work full of joy because they knew that their hope had been born. The children who were joyful on a normal day seemed to have taken on even more joy. Bethlehem laughed much more than ever.
The news reached three scholars from the East who saw a star that was pointing towards Bethlehem and they knew that the star that kept shinning was no ordinary star, it was a king’s star and they had to see this king. Two things seemed challenging though, how they would locate this king and what gifts they would take to him. So they went to the one person who seemed like he would have an answer, King Herod of Bethlehem. Although he didn’t know about this new king that had been born, he seemed like a nice guy who genuinely was interested in worshipping this king, the real truth though was that he wanted to be the only king in Bethlehem. This scholars on the good wishes of King Herod continued on their journey until they saw baby Jesus. Perfect! He was indeed king, plus they had found the perfect gift for him: Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh as a symbol of his kingship, anointing, and priesthood.
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