I am thirteen years old and betrothed to Joseph, whom I love. I was grinding wheat for our evening meal when a stranger approached. We have few visitors in our tiny town of Nazareth, and most of them aren’t people a young girl wants to meet. However, this one was different.
His greeting scared me a bit. “Hail, Mary full of grace?” Me? I’m just an ordinary woman. He reassured me and then told me the most marvelous news. I was to deliver the Promised One, the Messiah.
There was only one problem with that. I had never lain with a man, and wasn’t planning on it until after my marriage.
He told me not to worry about it. The Child would be conceived by the Holy Spirit. I would remain a virgin until I gave birth, for what would be in me would be holy. When I was still confused, he told me that he was Gabriel, who stood in the very presence of God.
Perhaps another woman in my place would have said “no.” The danger was so great; death was very likely to occur. However, I couldn’t. We had longed for the Messiah for so long, and believed God’s promise. If what this stranger said was true, then I knew God would protect me.
The angel also told me that my aunt, who was barren, was six months pregnant. My aunt was an old woman; how could she conceive? It was but further proof that what the angel said was true. I would accept this Gift from God.
I went to stay with my aunt after the angel left. I had told my mother and Joseph what the stranger, Gabriel had said. Neither believed me. I set out to visit my aged aunt to see the other good news that Gabriel had brought, and stayed until her child was born.
When I got back, Joseph told me that God had spoken to him in a dream. He believed me, and would not call me out as an adulteress. I was safe. God even told my beloved the name our Child should be called: Jesus.
About the time I was due to deliver the Child, a census came out. Joseph had to go to Bethlehem to register, as he was of the house and line of David. So, of course, am I. I didn’t have to go, but insisted anyway. It was an interesting conversation, but finally it was agreed.
When we got to Bethlehem, it was a madhouse. The only inn was full up. I think even the owners were going to be without beds. I had started labor a little before we reached the City of David. Joseph pleaded with the owners for *some* place for me to deliver the Child. The street was not a good location for that sort of thing.
All they had was a sort of stable in the rear. It was smelly and dark, but it was also somewhat private…if you didn’t count all the animals sharing its warmth. By that time, I didn’t care. Labor is painful, even if you are carrying the very Son of God.
Finally, the Baby was born. There wasn’t any place to lay Him except the manger. Joseph filled it with fresh hay while I wrapped Him in the swaddling clothes I’d brought for Him.
You would think that this would be the end of my evening, but it wasn’t. I had just lain down again and was resting when a bunch of shepherds came running to the stable. Even with the stench of the stable, you can tell a shepherd. They told us that an angel had come and told them that the Messiah had been born.
They were sent to this little stable to find Him. He would be lying in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and just as the angel had said, there was the Baby. What sent them running to see wasn’t just the one angel. The said that after the announcement, the heavens were filled with angels, all of them singing and praising God. These rough shepherds came one by one to look at Jesus and worship Him.
I could go on with the rest of the events around the time of Jesus’ birth, but I will save that for another time. Each event should be seen by themselves so you can treasure them and let them fill your heart.