Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Merry Christmas

"...because there was no room for them in the inn."  Luke 2:7

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. 
[4] So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. [5] He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. [6] While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, [7] and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
  • Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth, four days journey north of Bethlehem.
  • Mary was pregnant. A journey late in pregnancy is arduous for her. But if she stays in Nazareth she has to face scandal alone. 
  • An arduous journey in winter; a pregnant teenage mom. 

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. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.  

Mary and Joseph came into town with Mary ready to deliver. We are told that Joseph went to Bethlehem to register for the census - as all had been ordered to do -  in his own town.

We are also told that Joseph was a descendant of King David, whose home town was Bethlehem. The authorities would want each person to return to the place they were already listed as having property or assets. This suggests that Joseph was born in Bethlehem and had family and assets there.

Arriving at Joseph's ancestral home, it is said that they found it already full of other family members who had arrived earlier. While the exact reason space was not made for a pregnant woman is unknown. Did the elder members of Joseph's family have priority?  Or were mary and Joseph chastised for her pregnancy and "early" delivery? Were they ashamed and not wanting to admit the truth?  Perhaps they were even too ashamed to go to any of his relatives.

Was Mary - like so many women who conceived "out of wedlock" after her - SHUNNED to protect Joseph's family - the House of David - from shame?

In any event, they came to an inn - a place of lodging. But again, because so many had come for the census their was no room left except in the barn.

Some renditions of the story conjure up images of the couple going from inn to inn only to have the owners barking at them to go away and slamming the door on this man of aristocratic lineage and his beautiful, expecting bride.

Wouldn't supporting all unwed mothers and bringing gifts to those who are homeless be wonderful and approriate Christmas tradition? 

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