That Night In Bethlehem
By: Bethlhem Teame
Some two thousand years ago, like any other ordinary day, the day began with the sun rising in the east claiming its place on the usual vast clear blue sky. The birds of the sky singing in harmony for their morning choir made that day even more beautiful and peaceful, the atmosphere also held unborn promise of peace, hope, love and good will. The morning breeze was quite calm a sign of a great day and night to come. The heavenly bodies seem to be in sync to bear forth the greatest news to the whole world.
Meanwhile in the lands of Israel and it came to pass in those days, there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. It was also in the days where King Herod was appointed in Israel, so according to the decree all went to be taxed; everyone went into his own cityto comply with the Roman edict of enrollment for the census. The cities of Israel and their residents were also ordered to get enrolled in record books. That particular day was a very hec- tic day; the market was crowded with oxen, cows, doves and money chargers, the synagogue filled with worshipers and congregation, the streets busy with people from dif- ferent walks of life; the Pharisees, Samaritans, the Jews, the Gentiles and many more. That day the ora- tor was announcing the news of the decree on the top of his lung.
“Hear you all Israeli, the king has passed a law that states every residence of this city to get regis- tered in their hometown and house of lineage within this week and settle your taxes.”
“Disobedience to the law will not be tolerated and is punishable by the law.”
Soon through the grapevine and the rumor mill, everyone has man- aged to hear about the new decree. A woman from the market place told her neighbors, the neighbors to their families and relatives and soon the word was spread quickly like a rapid fire and everyone rushed to comply with the king’s decree. Journeys were planned and preparations made. The city was filled with haste and rush as ev- eryone went about their business. Goodbyes were said, hugs and greetings were exchanged and safe voyage for the journey wished.
Everyone had to go to their re- spective hometown to be listed and everyone was in rush. This pregnant woman with the man she is espoused to had to travel from Galilee out of the city ofNazareth unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem.
The woman’s belly was huge and made the jour- ney even more uncomfortable but the journey couldn’t be postponed for the word of the Caesar was iron firm and words that brooked no excuse or vindication. The woman and her fiancé set out early in the morning to reach their own city be fore the dusk.
But the road to Bethlehem was not a walk in the park. The roads were all full of ups and downs and unstable. The dirt road was exten- sively ragged and jagged making the journey even more difficult.
With unmatched faith and out- standing stamina, the woman bore everything. Her hands protectively over her belly she went about her journey, hoping and praying for a safe trip ahead. Now, the sun had claimed its position overhead its sunrays fierce and merciless as ever. Everyone on the road was complaining about the heat as they tried to summon some cold breeze while fanning. Sweat covered bod- ies were growing restless to see the destination and spare some leisure time. However, the woman bore everything and endured the discomfort of the road in her condition.
Few feet away the travelers come across a lawn dotted with big trees; the sight of a shade and cool place filled the travellers with new hope and recharged them with new energy.“Brothers and sisters, why don’t we all take a rest under the shades of these trees for a while before resuming on our journey?” asked the big, heavily masculine man who led the parade of the travellers.
His little daughter was such a frail creature, such a contrast to her father and she was tired to her bones dozing off on her father’s shoulder, her long blonde hair sprawled all over her face and her father’s shoulder. The travellers all agreed and everyone started to arrange a temporary shelter under the shade of the huge trees while the donkeys and other animals dispersed away to attend to their hunger and thirst. And just like that the buzzing and bustling of people and their activities filled the environment.
The pregnant woman rested her head on the trunk of the big tree and closed her eyes for a while her hands still resting protectively and affectionately on her belly. Her fiancé was unloading their packs from the donkey; he looked ahead at the road in front of them and calculated the time and the journey ahead. He was worried that his fiancée wouldn’t be able to handle all the hassles of the road. He looked back at her and earned her reassuring smile but again Mary wasn’t the kind of woman to complain and bemoan. This is what he likes about her; she is not like any other women. Mary is faithful, kind, obedient,humble, loving and hardworking. And with her belly heavy with a child, she glowed with beauty even more.
Although God’s mission bestowed on him was beyond his ability to comprehend or his knowledge of carpentry, Joseph didn’t waver in obeying the grand order. He knew his fiancée would also honor the grand mission and obey it.
After a few moment of break, the travellers resumed on their journey armed with new energy and a sense of freshness. By now the sun has already begun its graceful descend to its rest place and dusk was just around the corner, the day was say- ing farewell leaving its position to nightfall. It was also in this mo- ment that the woman felt the first pang of pain shooting through her body; she flinched in reaction fearing the worst but afraid of show- ing it.
Could today be the big day? Can it happen here in the middle of nowhere, we haven’t even reached the city of Bethlehem?The woman wanted to tell her fiancé about the pain she is experiencing but didn’t want to alarm him; Joseph tends to be overprotective when it comes to her and the unborn baby. Instead she clenched her teeth and decided to endure everything, she closed her eyes and addressed the God she loves and reveres so much, “My God, my refuge, my rescue and my fortress….” As she prayed she didn’t made a sound just moved her lips quietly. The labor how- ever was inevitable and she can no longer hide it. Sweat covered her whole body as labor progressed, the contraction increased both in frequency and severity, the man didn’t know what to do to allevi- ate the pain or cease it. He just did what he always does in times of trouble, he prayed for the God he serves.
Now Bethlehem was just a cor- ner away and despite everything else it gave them a new glittering hope, ‘help is on the way’ they thought.
But Bethlehem was not ready to accommodate any of them, even when Joseph begged from inn to inn in search of a place for his fiancée who was ready to give birth any minute now. Residents of Bethlehem were all rushing to get home from the bitter cold that engulfed the night and no one welcomed the guests who were desperately seeking a shelter for the night. The inn owners sympa- thized with the couple but all the rooms were all occupied by guests who came from all the corners of the country to comply with the government’s edict for the enroll- ment census. From place to place and on the top of the shooting pain Mary was suffering, and the bitter cold weather, they asked every- where they could, but their efforts where to no avail.
Finally the man took the woman in to a cattle’s shed and let her head rest on the cattle’s feeding, the night seemed endless as the labor progressed and contraction inten- sified. But eventually the woman brought forth her firstborn son in such a humble and shabby place; they wrapped the baby in swad- dling clothes andlaid the child in a manger because as absurd as it might seem the world was not ready to welcome him; at least in an inn. Despite the poor wel- come on the part of the tenants of the earth, the child brought forth peace, good will to all mankind to each and every one of us and good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people with his birth. That night in Bethlehem a savior was born.
Once in royal David’s city Stood a lowly cattle shed, Where a Mother laid her Baby In a manger for His bed: Mary was that Mother mild, Jesus Christ her little Child.