6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 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.
Luke 2:6-7 (ESV)
|Jacques Tissot - Joseph Seeks a Lodging in Bethlehem|
I can see they are distraught, but there is little I can do. The procuration of Augustus has brought so many into our tiny town. Bethlehem is not large enough to handle the influx of exhausted travelers. All day I have labored to make my guests, who there is room for, comfortable. I am tired and weary. I long to rest my head and sleep into the next morning.
The Romans have no idea the suffering they cause by demanding this census. Why do they need to count the people they enslave? There are many who will rest in the wilderness tonight, among thieves and wild animals. I can only offer shelter to so many.
This family came to my door, after being refused at another. I am not an unfeeling man, but I do not have so much as a corner in the courtyard where they can set with their donkey. I am the last door they can knock on, their final hope. The guilt of refusing a woman whose time is near will pain my heart for a long time to come.
I watch the woman, a young girl, rub her swollen abdomen. Her face shows the pain of a contraction.
"Are you sure you can not give us a place... anywhere," the man said. "The journey was difficult, especially for my wife. I fear it has brought her time on."
I was about to lose what little patience I still possessed, when my wife moved up beside me. She is a gentle soul, my Sara. Sometimes I wish I had her empathy for people.
"What about the stable," Sara said in a soft melodic voice I always found to be beautiful.
"It will be cold there. It is not clean and it smells of animals." I see a hopeful look spread over the features of the male traveler. The woman he has referred to as his wife is murmuring a soft prayer. I wonder if God is listening to her and the petitions of all His people.
"It will be shelter," Sara stated. "It will be warmer than the side of the road, warmer even than the courtyard."
I look at the man. When he first knocked on my door he told his name was Joseph. I did not catch the name of his wife. His hopeful look has not faded. He looks at Sara, his eyes almost pleading.
"She is going to have the child... soon. I will bring something out to wrap the baby in. We can use one of the feeding troths as a cradle. I will clean one up, fill it with fresh hay, so the newborn will be comfortable." Sara always has the final word. She has spoken and it will be done.
The thank you I receive from Joseph and his wife warms my heart, even though I have done nothing but obey. Sara is filled with joy at the chance to care for others. On this night, at this moment, the whim of the emperor has been forgotten and the birth of a child is all that matters.
copyright 2016 - Donald P James Jr