The nurse smirks as she reads the prenatal.
“Hey guys, get a load of this one. Patient is a virgin.”
The other nurses gather around, disbelief and incredulity obvious on their faces. “How'd she get pregnant then? In vitro?”
“Maybe. But she's married! She can't possibly still be a virgin!”
Voices hush as the door to the unit opens. The nurse leaves the desk and greets Mary and Joseph warmly, directing them to the room. “I'm sorry it's so small....it's one of our screening rooms. Our unit is currently very busy.”
“Just like the rest of town,” Joseph reflects. “Every hotel, motel, and spare room in town is packed out. We were going to sleep in our Corolla in the parking garage, but Mary's contractions started.” Mary's face reveals obvious pain.
“Wow! Well, lets check and see if you're in labor.”
Minutes later the nurse presses the call bell. A voice rings over the intercom, “Can I help you?”
“Yeah, uh, can you call the doctor and bring a delivery table? And a nursery nurse....”
Joseph looks up in surprise. “Is the baby coming right now?”
The nurse struggles not to let panic show. “Well, yes. I hope you weren't expecting an epidural.”
Mary breathes with relief as the contraction passes. “I wasn't sure....we really can't afford it.”
“You don't have insurance?”
Joseph clears his throat. “I have my own carpentry business; I had been building my client relationships for several months before the announcement came from the UN. We couldn't buy plane tickets, so we've driven the car the entire way, staying in campgrounds.”
“Of course it doesn't help that this is such a small town. Thankfully your other doctor faxed us your prenatal since he knew you'd be here.”
Another contraction begins and the baby's head crowns; Mary groans and grips the stiff iron bedrails in pain. The nurse coaches her through breathing. Joseph stands next to the bed, holding her hand.
As the contraction passes, the nurse turns to Joseph with a gentle smile, though nervous beads of sweat glisten on her brow. “Did you guys pick a name yet?”
Mary pauses, and then volunteers, “God told us to name Him Jesus.”
“Oh, um, that's nice. You're religious folk, then, eh?” The nurse shifts uncomfortably. “I used to go to church when I was a kid. It was okay, but kind of depressing, you know? I've never heard of God speaking nowdays; I thought He stopped that like 2400 years ago.”
“Well, He's starting it up again,” Joseph states confidently. “This child is the fulfilment of the promise.”
The nurse eyes him with incredulity. “You think?”
* * * * *
Of course, it did not happen that way.
No Corolla; they likely had a mule or donkey. All they could find was a stable, not a parking garage. And probably no nurse or midwife attended the birth.
No clean sheets thrown hastily over a hard exam table, no sterile instruments present to cut the cord. Several strips of dirty cloths bound His hands and feet to keep him warm. The afterbirth they threw outside the stable, even as the scents of animal waste and wet hay permeated the air.
No silent night, but definitely a holy one. A few shepherds popped in and gawked, worshipping the baby laying in the feeding trough. This action drew Mary's attention, for she had only seen an angel just before the pregnancy, and Joseph had one dream. The shepherds' action at the least verified what they had heard themselves.
No, except for the shepherds' testimony and the unusual overcrowded circumstances, the night appeared quite similar to any other night in a poor family's life 2000 or so years ago. Yet it holds earthshaking significance for the world.
Even if God had sent His Son today, the message would be the same. For in that night, He spoke His message of love to the world.
As our families gather this Christmas to share memories, to give gifts as reminders of our love, let us remember this message as we strive to ignore the commercialism and materialism and even the religion that obstructs the real reason for the season:
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, His one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in Him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.”*
* * * * *
*John 3:16 The Message Bible
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