Warmest greetings on a cold Bethlehem night. I pray that this letter finds you well and that this past year has brought you much joy and happiness—despite all of the hardship in the world. It’s been quite a year for me.
Since I last wrote, my life has had dramatic changes. I would love to be able to tell you that this has been a good year, but, unfortunately, I cannot. In fact, it has been a tumultuous year. You recall how excited I was when Joseph and I were engaged. The year started off with so much promise. He is a carpenter and has good prospects in Nazareth. My family was pleased. His family seems nice (& he’s from the line of King David!!!).
Then, it happened… This is difficult to explain, and you probably would not believe me if I tried to explain—I got pregnant. It’s not what you think, either. Let’s just say: it was a miracle. Trust me.
Another miracle was that Joseph did not break off the engagement when I told him. However, it’s not been easy.
When Emperor Augustus made that decree about being registered, we had to go to Bethlehem because Joseph is in King David’s line. The journey was really hard. I was so uncomfortable and could not wait to check in at our hotel. We had no idea how crowded Bethlehem would be! There were people everywhere! The hotel lost our reservation and people were sleeping everywhere! They even slept on the streets and in alleyways. Joseph found an innkeeper who had pity on us and let us sleep in the stable behind the inn. At least, we were out of the weather.
While we were in Bethlehem, the baby decided it was time. Joseph’s carpenter guild insurance is not accepted at Bethlehem General Hospital, and while we were still trying to figure out what to do, the baby came. Home delivery wasn’t so bad.
It was a boy!!! We named him Jesus.
Throughout it all, the kindness of strangers has been wonderful. A group of shepherds were staying nearby. They, sort of, showed up and seemed to be expecting to find our little family in the manger. Even though they were shepherds—I don’t mean anything by it (but you know how shepherds can be!)—they have been wonderful, helpful, supportive, and so loving toward the baby. They even chased off an annoying boy from a nearby house who kept trying to play a drum for the baby. Are you kidding me? A drum? Honestly, was that kid trying to drive me crazy?
Despite everything, I am thankful to God. Baby Jesus is healthy (10 fingers, 10 toes, and cute baby noises). There is a rumor about some traveling kings or magi in the city. I heard that there are three of them, but who knows about rumors? Maybe Joseph can find some work with them. I am upbeat, and may I say, my soul still magnifies the Lord.
I am convinced that the God who delivered our people in the wilderness will deliver me, Joseph, and our baby. Whatever you faced this past year, or whatever is ahead of you in the new year, God is here, present and loving, and cares for you.
May the New Year bring you much joy and happiness and draw you closer to God.