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A Special Delivery

Posted on December 23, 2018 at 2:25 PM

I wrote this in 2008 and have "performed" it as a dramatic reading and sermon in various settings. It is obviously a figment of my imagination, but there are surely some truths to be found, and reflection to be gleaned.  Enjoy, and be sure to let me know your thoughts.

A Special Delivery

 

Joachim! Joachim?? Where IS that man! Joachim, we have a letter! A special delivery from our Mary!! Come quickly Joachim! Oh, where is that man when you need him. Well, I can’t wait. I will read it to him later.

 

(Carefully unfolds the parchment and adjusts glasses—reads out loud)

 

Dear Mama and Papa,

I am sure that by now you are beginning to worry because Joseph and I have not yet returned to Nazareth. Please let me explain. It’s been such a long journey in so many ways.

 

Thank you for sending the extra blankets and food with us for the trip to Bethlehem. The census couldn’t have come at a worse time with the baby coming due, but Joseph took it slowly and chose the steadiest donkey for me to ride.

 

I thought we’d never get there. We stopped often so that I could rest and have nourishment. There were times when the road was clogged with other travelers, and then times when we seemed to be the only people in the whole world.

 

We were drawing near to the city when the pains began. You were right, Mama, there’s nothing like labor pains! They came on so sudden and they were sharp-- I thought for sure I would scream. My teeth are surely ground down from clenching them so tightly.

 

Joseph was terrified! My poor, poor dear husband. His greatest fear, of course, was that we would be all alone under a sycamore tree, when the baby came. I can just imagine your horror, Papa, as you think about Joseph serving as my mid-wife!

 

I can’t explain it, but I had that same sense of peace come over me, you know, the same one I told you about, on that night the angel visited. Somehow, I just knew that everything was going to be alright. But then another pain would come and I’d have a momentary lapse of faith! And then that peace would return; a peace that passes all understanding. It was like riding a big wave on a stormy night out on Galilee.

 

By the time we got to Bethlehem there were no available rooms to stay in. It took us so much longer with me in my condition, that everyone just seemed to pass us up! Joseph went to the inn and some make-shift inns begging for a place for us to stay, but there wasn’t one to be found.

 

The pains were coming much more quickly by then. I hardly seemed to get past one when the next one started. The waves were beginning to crash in upon themselves and I was in desperation to lie down and free my body of this baby!

 

Poor sweet Joseph was beside himself! I’m sure he must have wondered for the 100th time what he’d gotten himself into. Finally, he pleaded with the innkeeper for a space. I’m sure he had tears in his eyes as he begged for a place for his baby to be born.

 

He said in desperation, “We’ll sleep with the animals! Just please give us someplace where my wife can deliver this baby.”

 

Joseph, of course, told me all of this later. At the time, he simply came out of the inn and said, “I have a place for us. It isn’t what we expected, but it will have to do.”

 

“Oh Joseph!” I exclaimed in pain, “Please hurry to get us there. I trust you and in God to provide for us. Let’s go!”

 

“Well, it’s an interesting provision,” he muttered as he led the donkey and the doubled-up me down the road toward the edge of town.

 

I had a moment of surprise when I realized we were heading through Bethlehem to the other side of town. I was sure Joseph had heard wrong—likely hadn’t asked for directions—and now was leading us beyond the lights of the city into darkness.

 

In that moment, my faith in both God and my husband began to waver. None of this made sense. But then what part of this whole journey had made sense? From the time the angel visited me, life had taken a strange twist.

 

Finally, and mercifully, we arrived. At first, I was shocked, but truth be told, I was in so much pain by then, that I was ready to have the baby in a ditch alongside the road. I just wanted OFF that donkey!!

 

I don’t know how to break this news to you, Mama and Papa, but the place God provided for us was a stable; a simple cave where the innkeeper was stabling the animals of his guests. It wasn’t very big, but with the cows and horses, mules and sheep and such, it was warmer than you might think. Again, I thank you for those extra blankets.

 

Joseph made me a place on the soft straw with a blanket under me and one over me. He kissed me on the top of my head and then set out to find a mid-wife and perhaps some musicians from the neighboring homes and make-shift inns.

 

It must have been comical to see the looks of the ox, the ass and the sheep as we joined them.

But, Oh God, another pain hit just then! I tried so not to scream, as I didn’t want to startle God’s creatures around me, but I couldn’t stifle the moans that shook my body.

 

Mama, are you sure that the first baby is the worst, and that it will get better with the next one?

 

Joseph finally returned with not one but two mid-wives. It seems he was yelling for help so loudly that the whole town heard him. By the time they got back to the stable I felt as though my back was going to break.

 

How I wished for my mother to be there at my side. It seems strange doesn’t it? I am about to become a mother and all I want is MY mother.

 

I’m sure my sweet beloved Joseph was ready to take his leave out of doors. Compared to my pain I suspect that the cold biting night air was refreshing to him, the poor man.

 

I would like to say that this was the end of my labor, but of course, (and forgive me papa for speaking so boldly about such things) this was just the beginning.

 

I found that while my body experienced little or no peace over the next hours, something in my heart kept reminding me that everything was going to be just fine.

 

Papa, do you think that “something” was God? After all that had happened with my being pregnant and not yet living with Joseph, and then the trip to Bethlehem, and having to give birth on a bed of straw…… I think it was God. I just kept the words of the angel going over and over in my head: “Mary, God is pleased with you.”

 

Well, finally little Jesus made his appearance! It certainly took him long enough, and it was far from a pleasant experience for his mama, but he came out whole and appears to be healthy.

 

Once he was cleaned up, he had a big appetite!

The midwives helped me get him washed and swaddled. I could hear the musicians striking up the band as one of the mid-wives went out and announced, “It’s a boy.”

Again, thank you for sending me everything I could possibly need on this trip, Mama.

 

Joseph came in, then, and I saw the look of wonderment in his face. I was exhausted, but also exhilarated sitting there on fresh straw with my tired aching back resting against several bales. I couldn’t help but beam at this new life I was holding in my arms.

 

Joseph thanked the two mid-wives who had just finished hauling out the old violated straw. I had them throw away one of your blankets too. Trust me when I say, “you wouldn’t want it back.”

 

They promised to come back within the hour with food and drink for me, though I assured them we had food in our saddle bags. They laughed when someone outside said loudly, “Let your husband eat the old food.”

 

Joseph laughed too and said that he would gladly eat year-old food so that I had the best. He thanked the women over and over again for their help.

 

One of them said, as they were leaving, “I’ve delivered a lot of babies in my day, but I swear, there’s something special about this one.” The other said, “I agree! What did you say his name is again?”

 

Joseph replied quietly, “His name is Jesus.”

 

One of the mid-wives muttered, “Hmmm, sounds like a name we’ll have to listen for over the years.” The other patted her on the back as they stepped out of the cave together, and were embraced by the cool night air and the brightest star they had ever seen.

 

Oh Mama and Papa, it’s hard to explain, as I am feeling a myriad of feelings all at the same time. I know that every parent hopes and believes their child will be someone great in the world, but I just know in my heart of hearts there’s something very special about our baby, Jesus.

 

I have a not so good feeling about it as well. Sometimes bad things happened to very special people.

 

But for now, I am going to rejoice! I am getting stronger each day, but still not ready for the trip home. The gracious innkeeper sent his wife out with food for us today, and he refuses to charge us for the stable.

 

Joseph found an extra manger lying there against the stone wall. It was obviously in dire need of repair, so, he spent a day or so cleaning it up and using his carpenter skills to repair it. You’ll never guess what we did with it! We made it into a cradle for little Jesus! It works beautifully lined with soft straw, one of your blankets, and him in his swaddling clothes.

 

All the animals seem captivated with him. Joseph and I laughed and laughed when a tiny lamb, also new born, found his way over to the manger this morning and nuzzled the baby.

 

Jesus will think his family is made up of the ox, lamb, cows and sheep! Oh, and of course shepherds and other townspeople as well!

 

I forgot to write about the shepherds who appeared the night he was born. As it turns out they’d been tending their sheep on a hill overlooking Bethlehem, when an angel appeared to them and told them to come and find the baby! They looked more than a little awkward, but we were glad they came.

 

There’s talk about that bright star over Bethlehem these days. Some say that those who study stars and such things are out of their minds trying to figure it out. I know this to be true because 3 star-gazers appeared here in person! They claimed to have followed the star right to this cave. Can you imagine? They gave the baby strange gifts, but what can one expect from three men?

 

After they left, Joseph had a very disturbing dream. He believes there is danger and wants us to go to Egypt for a little while before returning home. I do not understand, but there is so much I don’t understand. My husband has trusted me, and I must continue to trust him.

 

I know it will trouble you to learn we are not returning anytime soon with your grandchild, but as for me, I am at peace. I keep having the sense that God is with us.

 

I am sending this letter home with the last group of people who were here to register for the census. They have elderly among them and thus don’t travel all that quickly. I can surely relate to that right now!

Because of their delight in the baby, they are going to detour through Nazareth to deliver this letter to you! Isn’t that wonderful of them?

 

Well, Joseph just came in and beckoned me to give the letter to him so that he can get it into the traveler’s hands before they leave. The baby is sleeping quietly and has such a little tiny smile at the corners of his mouth. Every mother thinks her baby is special—I know that—but once you see Jesus, you’ll understand.

 

It is hard for me to say good-bye to you because writing this has made me long for you even more. But I must write the final word, or you won’t ever see this letter.

 

I love you Mama. I love you Papa. I hope to see you soon.

Your Loving Mary

 

(Gently folds the letter again and holds it to her heart) Joachim? Joachim! Where are you dear heart?? There’s been a SPECIAL DELIVERY!! (Head down the center aisle, looking left to right and call out JOACHIM!! Go on out through the doors and yell again as you go down the hall, JOACHIM!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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