It was a dark night and the times were bleak. The Romans ruled with an iron fist and everyone lived in a state of fear. At any second their lives could be taken from them. Few sought to change the status quo and those that did were feared and shunned.

But Galilee was different, the pace of life was slower there. Sure, the risk and the threat was still on their minds, but not like those in Jerusalem. Everyone engaged in the same routine over and over again: they saw the same people, spoke to the same neighbors, went on the same trips. Women all followed the same pattern: live purely, get engaged to a good man, get married and be a good wife, have children and raise them to be good people.

But there was a girl who was a little different than the rest. Mary had been chosen, set apart, she was going to be part of something powerful. Though there were others who were more qualified, smarter, wiser, and all around better options for this momentous task, she was chosen to be mom to the Savior, the one who would set his people free. This was the Christ who had been prophesied about hundreds of years before, the one, who they had been awaiting with eager anticipation, was on his way.

Though her and her betrothed, Joseph, had remained pure, they had fulfilled their promise to each other, their families, and God, Mary was pointed at. She was ostracized and looked down upon. She endured whispers and gossip because she knew the promise that resided within her and trusted the God in whom she had placed her faith.

As they traveled from Galilee to Bethlehem to be counted in the census, Mary often recalled the message she had received as she felt the baby kicking within her ever-expanding belly. She thought of the angel who announced that she had been chosen for this impossible assignment. Some days she was excited and thankful, other days she felt overwhelmed and ill-equipped, and still other days, she just wanted it to be over, she wanted to take it all back. But during those moments of doubt, she was met by an unexplainable peace; she had this knowing that everything would be okay.

Whenever her eyes rested on Joseph, she was in awe of him. Tears welled in her eyes when she thought of how truly blessed she was. Instead of casting her to the side, labeling her impure as so many others had, he stuck with her every step of the way. She often wondered what she had done to deserve him -- how did she get to be so lucky?

Their journey was hot and uncomfortable. Mary felt bloated and sick and wanted to be doing anything other than traveling, but she had no choice. She dutifully obeyed. They traveled for days, finding places where they could rest for the night, though neither of them got much sleep despite their overwhelming exhaustion. They tried to speak with other weary travelers but oftentimes they were met with scornful looks -- look at that sinful couple. Still, Joseph was attentive and caring, do all he could for the woman he had committed to. Mary tried to express her gratitude as best she could, but her words fell short every time.

They finally arrived in Bethlehem, exhausted, drained, dirty, smelly, and thankful to have made it. With hopeful hearts, they knocked on inn after inn to no avail -- there were no rooms left. Joseph, at the end of his rope, in desperation for the baby that would soon be coming, begged for mercy from the Innkeeper. “Surely you must have one room?”

Taking pity on the poor couple and their unfortunate situation, he let them lodge in his stable. They laid on the hay and Joseph did his best to make Mary as comfortable as possible in their less than comfortable lodging arrangements.

The pain Mary felt was unimaginable, childbirth was grueling, the smells, sights, and sounds were an overload for the senses. But finally, a small cry was heard in the dead of night: the Christ child had been born. In that moment, as she held him, wrapped in a piece of fabric, all of the pain and the stress of the previous weeks and months melted away. He was the most perfect thing she had ever seen and her heart welled with more love than she thought it was capable of. She wondered what events this small human would contribute to and if he would, indeed, be all that the Lord had promised he would be.

While Mary and the baby slept, Joseph watched the horizon with all the vigilance he could muster: he had a responsibility to care for and protect his small family. He wished he could provide more for his betrothed and the child, he knew the deserved more than dirty hay and a feeding trough, but it was the best he could give them.

As he was beginning to fall asleep, he heard the sounds of footsteps approaching the new family, stirring him awake. There was talking and shouting as the people moved closer to the stable -- they were excited about something. Joseph grabbed his staff, hoping it would be sufficient ammunition to protect those he was called to care for. His pulse raced and his heartbeat in his ears as he braced himself for what was going to happen next when he was greeted by the smiling faces and jubilant shouts of the shepherds. What he had feared could quite possibly be their demise turned into an exquisite celebration.

There was laughing and crying and worship of the small child, the parents in awe of the Lord and what he was planning to do in and through them and this precious babe. In that stable, with such an unlikely group of people on an inauspicious night, something incredible had happened.

The light had come and hope was brought forth -- this was the start of something new.

This is why we celebrate. Because God so loved those he created that He gave His own Son who humbled Himself to be born in a place unfit for the One who created it all. His loving fulfillment of his promise is why we give gifts and spread cheer. His love that restored relationship with those of us who had strayed far from Him is the reason for the season.

Merry Christmas from We are Unveiled.

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