In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. (Luke 2: 1-5 NRSV)
The text quoted above is almost as familiar to us as the Lord’s Prayer. We hear it every December. Even so, it is part of our story, Joseph and Mary’s story, God’s story, and we need to hear it again.
I don’t know how men sitting in the pews (or the preacher, for that matter, if the preacher is male) absorb this text. I do know that a lot of women’s hearts go out to Mary! She was young, unmarried, carrying a miraculous child, and having to travel over desert country to satisfy an emperor who wanted to know how many people there were in “his” world!
One of my favorite Christmas carols is “Little Gray Donkey,” about the faithful donkey who carried Mary so carefully. It always reminds me that each of us, however humble, can be of use, can participate in God’s plan, can serve in important ways.
In the midst of preparation for Christmas, please take time to think about Joseph and Mary and the little gray donkey, all of whom obeyed the call, as inconvenient as it was, to go to Joseph’s home town of Bethlehem.
As we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior, whisper a prayer of thanks!