Have you ever seen a baby being born?
I thought so! Most men don't have a clue what happens behind those closed doors - actually, we don't want to know. Rather run away. But there I was, in a strange town, in a stable, with Mary crying out, squeezing my hand until I wanted to cry.
She sent me out to find a midwife, but it was a fruitless search. There was supposed to be two midwives in Bethlehem, but Caesar's census took both of them away to their birth towns. And no other woman was willing to help. Everybody slammed their doors in my face, as if that would solve the problem.
I have seen animals giving birth, but knowing the mechanics of the process meant nothing to me that night. What do you say to a woman crying out in pain? What do you DO? Nobody ever prepared me for this! We didn't even have a bed for Mary to lie on. Were it not for the grumpy innkeeper we would have been out on the street!
As I knelt next to her on the cold floor, I cried with her, totally frustrated. I, Joseph, I could do nothing for my wife. I didn't know what to do. I had barely enough money for food, where was I going to find anything for this baby? Come to think of it, what do you do with a baby once it's born? And what about the mother?
But Mary was a miracle that night. In the pauses between the birth pains she instructed me. "Tear that cloth! ... Give it to me! ... Hold my hand!" And finally "Catch him!" "Give him to me!"
And when it was over, and she held him close to her, wrapped in strips of cloth, I couldn't believe it. I looked at her tear-stained face beaming down at that little face, and I cried. But this time it was tears of joy.
God had dropped a little bundle into our arms. My wife laboured through the night to bring him into this world, and I will labour to raise him in the fear of the Lord. I felt his little hand around my finger, and I knew: Whatever may happen, we will be hand in hand...
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