As a child, the Christmas story for me was mostly fun. I liked babies and loved being part of the Christmas drama at church. I found it hard to identify with the characters in the story. I knew I was celebrating the birth of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us, but the story itself had little relevance for my life.
Table of Contents
Isn’t He Beautiful
I’m An Angel
Can I Hold Him?
That’s Not Your Baby
The Last Shall Be First
The Reluctant Shepherd
Melchie, the Third Wiseman
A Life Completed
An Ancient Love Story
(Note: This sample is from the title story Can I Hold Him? In Jesus time, the Bethlehem Inn would probably have been a family business. I imagined that the young daughter Hannah would have been hard at work caring for guests the night Jesus was born.)
Can I Hold Him?
That particular year, Caesar Augustus had decreed that everyone should return to the place of their birth to be registered for the tax. Bethlehem was teeming with people. Our business had doubled. I remember my father rubbing his hands together in satisfaction and saying, “Thank you, Caesar, thank you,” as he scurried around the inn.
The night Jesus was born, loud, boisterous men filled our inn. Sweating bodies surrounded me, each one demanding something. I was up before dawn, fetching and carrying, preparing food, washing dishes. I thought the day would never end.
As I cleared away the evening meal, I heard a persistent pounding on the door. “Who is it now?” I wondered. I tripped over someone’s outstretched leg and almost fell as I struggled through the people to the door. I wrenched it open and without looking up shouted above the din, “No room. We’re full.” I tried to slam the door shut but the man had his foot in the way. It was only then that I looked up and saw them. A beautiful young woman, great with child, sat on a donkey. She winced with pain. The man reached out and grabbed my arm, his eyes wild with desperation.
“Get your master!” he commanded.
I knew what Father would say, but I had no choice. I shrugged off his arm, turned on my heel and yelled, “Father! Father!” as I threaded my way through the crowd toward the kitchen. Out of the gloom and smoke, Father appeared at my elbow with Mother standing close behind him.
“What is it?” he roared above the din.
I put my mouth to his ear and shouted, “There’s a couple at the door wanting…
“There’s no room. We’re full,” he interrupted. Then, pushing me aside, he stomped off towards the door muttering to himself.
I turned to Mother and pleaded, “Isn’t there some way we can help them? The woman is going to have a baby.”
“Get back into the kitchen; the dishes are piled high,” she scolded. A tear slipped down my cheek. Mother reached out with her apron and wiped it away. “My sweet Hannah,” she sighed and hurried off after Father. “I’ll try,” she called back over her shoulder…