Our thanks to Matt Marples who composed this wonderful song.
Had you asked me before today
What would I say
Were I privileged enough to be invited to a meet and greet
With the Messiah himself?
I’d say: some words would leave my mouth
None of them complimentary or empty
As they should be when meeting such an entity
No they’d be angry accusations and damning demands
Where were you when the empire took our lands?
And left us with nothing but the dust in our hands
Not even the ground beneath our feet is ours
Never knew freedom was so sweet til we were behind bars
But then, I wouldn’t be invited
Shepherd’s hardly favoured dinner guest
Nor a powerful political ally
We’re rank and file at best
So I’d never expected an angel in the sky
Or the rank and file of heaven singing hosanna from on high
Never thought I’d be the first to see the saviour of the world
Never thought I’d have his tiny fist around my finger curled
Because he shouldn’t be born in a stable
With cracked door and muddy floor
Where the inn’s din hides
The child’s first cries inside
He doesn’t belong here
In this messed and complex land
But then he doesn’t belong on this earth
So perhaps after all God has a plan
Doesn’t mean I know what it is
But I don’t think that’s the point
And anyway, when I see him there
I find it hard to care
Because that handful of holiness
Is concrete proof of care
Evidence that whatever goes wrong
God isn’t hiding away up there
And that means for the first time
We have nothing left to fear
By Millie Swan
Hi everyone! So I’m guessing you all know why I’m here, and what I’ve come to talk about. But I get the feeling that some of you feel like I’m a bit of an idiot, refusing a room to a young and desperate couple on that cold night during the census, so I thought I’d clear the air and share a bit of this story from my point of view.
It all really started a week before. The Romans (few things I’d like to say about them but I’ll continue), they’d called for a census to be made over here, meaning that everyone had to go back to their hometowns just for a few days or so, so that the Roman officers could count us and establish how many of us Jews there were. A load of all-for-nothing hassle if you ask me, but I knew I wasn’t going anywhere special. Bethlehem born and bred, me! Right in this very house too, in my inn. Because that’s all it’s ever been, just a very big house. It’s been renovated a few times, a couple of extra rooms added over the years, although the missus is still complaining that she wants a bigger kitchen out the back …+
Anyway, so you have to understand that Bethlehem isn’t a very up and coming place. It’s just a dot on the map, really. Nothing special ever happened in Bethlehem; it’s funny, now everybody knows about it.
So we honesty weren’t expecting many. It started a few days before, a couple of people needed rooms, my great aunt Hilda and my mother in law (I’d have swapped Joseph and his wife for her any day). But people kept knocking, asking for anything I had, and soon my house was full to the brim. We had people lying in hallways, up the stairs, ten to a room – any floor space was taken. By the time Joseph and his wife arrived, we literally didn’t have a floorboard to give them.
That’s when I thought of the barn. I’d spoken to a few friends of mine earlier in the day, there was no way they were going to get a room anywhere else. And I couldn’t let Mary have her baby on the street. At first I thought it was a stupid idea, nearly didn’t say it, but when I did they seemed that desperate even a bed of straw was appealing.
I tidied up as best I could, gathered up the best straw, penned the animals in to the side, which they strangely did so without complaint. I asked them if they needed anything; the poor bloke looked totally lost, and the girl (for she was only a girl) was, well, about to burst. I ran for some hot water, a few pillows, but by the time I’d managed to scramble over my many sleeping guests, well, the baby had been born. My, oh my. He was normal enough; strong, healthy. She laid him in the manger, wrapped him in a few pieces of cloth I’d managed to find. He was normal enough, but…
I don’t know. He was very quiet. Eyes open, lying there. Now I’m not much of a religious man, and I don’t care much for superstitions or feelings or anything like that. But that baby; this is gonna sound weird, but it felt like everything had been dark before in the barn, like that night had gone on forever – and now someone had switched on a light. I left them too it, and finally went to bed myself, although I didn’t sleep much, I had too many thoughts buzzing around my head, but I was peaceful.
I heard some weird stories the next morning from the guests, some said they’d seen three majestic-looking men with robes and the like walking round the back; others said they’d smelt something awful go past the door this morning, which in these parts could only mean shepherds.
But I’ll never forget that night, strange as it was.
By Alice Tooms
Welcome to our Christmas blog. Thank you for joining us this advent. We hope that you enjoy the time we journey together to Christmas!