Tuesday, December 14
Mary and Joseph have slowly learned to live with each other. It’s likely they both experience apprehension at what lies ahead, but Joseph continues to work in his shop while Mary draws water at the well, prepares meals, sewing for the expected child. As the baby grows within her, her body changes, her back aches, her sleep is disturbed. Have the families “come around” as they often do when circumstances aren’t understood or approved but when a baby is on the way?
And then the unexpected, inviolable news trickles from Rome to Nazareth. The Caesar has declared that everyone in the Roman word will be counted. This isn’t an option, something to be debated, no recall of local or national leaders is allowed, no exceptions granted. And this isn’t a mail-in ballot procedure. In order for the count to be official, everyone must go to their ancestral “headquarters,” and since Joseph belonged to the house and line of David, they prepared for the ninety-mile journey to Bethlehem. We’re unsure exactly when in Mary’s pregnancy they began their trek, despite poignant pictures of pregnant Mary on a donkey, but for all who’ve experienced pregnancy travel, it’s undeniable that this definitely wasn’t the preferred time to be on the road.
The narrative of Jesus’ birth and life is filled with the unexpected. With the exception of a few people like Simeon and Anna whose faith remained firm because they believed the prophecies of old, Jesus–then and now–brings us to the point where, to some degree and at some point, human understanding and logical expectations are suspended and we step into the unknown.
Both Mary and Joseph had the benefit of angelic announcement. Today we live by faith, the faith described as being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1). Their journey–and ours–are not promised to be without discomfort or pain, but joy and fulfillment are guaranteed. At some time. At some place.