She was laughing, her eyes a bright twinkle that outshone the stars in the sky. They mesmerized him. Are her eyes always this bright? As he watched her, she began to glow. Mary? What is happening to you? Wait – it isn’t Mary – what is happening? Why is everything getting so bright?
That was not Mary’s voice. That was unlike any voice he had ever heard before – magnificent, and reverberating.
“Joseph, do not be afraid!”
As the light began to grow brighter, Joseph found himself unable to move. His chest tightened in fear. His eyes, although closed, were blinded by the light shining around him.
“Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
Eight days later, Elisabeth and Zechariah welcomed their neighbours and relatives into their home for the baby’s circumcision. A Hebrew surgeon named Lemuel was called to perform the ceremony.
“This is a wonderful day!” Lemuel rejoiced, clapping his hands together. “We have gathered together to celebrate with Zechariah and his wife Elisabeth in the birth of their son. I am sure that this little one, who came to them so late in life, will bring them great joy!” He took the baby from Elisabeth and cradled him in his arms. “This ceremony of circumcision was instituted by Yahweh as the sign of the covenant between Him and the Jewish people. It reminds us that we are to belong to God, worshipping and obeying Him. On this day it is also tradition to name the baby.” He looked to Zechariah and asked, “Will this child be named after you?”
“Mary!” she exclaimed as she drew her close. “Dear Mary! What are you doing here?”
“Elisabeth!” Mary hugged her and at the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elisabeth gasped and clutched her stomach.
In a loud voice, she exclaimed, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear.”
Mary’s eyes widened in shock. Elisabeth knows? How could she know?
“But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Elisabeth asked, cupping Mary’s cheek with her hand. “As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. You are blessed my child, because you have believed everything the Lord has told you.”
Mary greeted the animals as she opened the gate to the pen behind their home. The sheep bleated a response, and she drew closer to have a look at the new baby.
“How are you doing, Treasure?” she reached a tentative hand toward the new lamb and was greeted with a wet nose. She giggled in delight at the new lamb’s curiosity. “You’re friendly.” She scratched behind his ears and slowly withdrew her hand when his mother grunted her disapproval. “Come now, Anna! It’s just me. You know I wouldn’t hurt your baby for the world.”
A nudge from behind her almost caused Mary to topple forward. When she turned to scold the animal responsible, she was filled with regret.
“Hello, Jesus,” Joseph whispered, his eyes glistening with tears.
He held in his arms the Promise of Israel. His whole body trembled with joy and relief over the days’ events. Fearing he would drop the babe, he kissed his forehead and placed him back in the manger.
Mary stirred. “Joseph.”
“My beloved one, you have a beautiful son,” he said. “How do you fare? Is all well?”
“Everything is fine, my darling. However, I think I shall sleep a thousand sleeps tonight,” she yawned. “Does my father know yet that he has a grandson?”
“Indeed I do!” Heli announced as he and Rebekah re-entered the stable. “In fact, the birth announcement has already been proclaimed.”
Puzzled, she looked at him. “Proclaimed?”
“Throughout Bethlehem – in every inn apparently.”
“Abba, how could you have done that so quickly, when I have just given birth?”
“Actually, you already have visitors – or rather Jesus does. Are you up to seeing them, Mary? I know you are tired, but they have quite a story to tell you.”
Mary and Joseph exchanged curious glances. “Visitors … proclamations? I am already intrigued,” Mary said as she struggled to sit up. “Tell them they may come in.”
Quietly, the shepherds shuffled into the warm, cozy stable. As soon as they saw the baby in the manger, they fell to their knees in worship. Mary watched them in silence, struck numb by the sudden clarity of who the baby in the manger was. I just gave birth to the Son of God. Blessed be the Lord!
She looked around the stable. What a contrast. Cows, goats, and sheep surrounded her. She sat in a bed of hay while the king of the world slept in a feeding trough at her side. And wonders of wonders, shepherds were kneeling in the hay worshipping her son. She looked at Joseph who had also fallen to his knees. What a night. What joy! Her heart overflowed with thanksgiving for Yahweh’s provision and she wept with happiness.