Episode #5: Joseph

The streets of Bethlehem were heaving. Families were reuniting after the calling of a census. I was glad we didn’t know most of them. People who knew us tended to stare these days.

But an angel told me how special this baby was going to be. That had soothed my fears a bit, but it didn’t stop the staring or the hushed words when we walked past.

“The great arrival of a king, eh?” I muttered as another stranger collided Mary on a busy street. “Doesn’t look like it to me.” Mary gave my hand a squeeze.

“It’s ok, Joseph.”

Was it? Angels giving messages in dreams is all well and good, but perhaps the dream wasn’t real. God promised us a saviour but surely it wouldn’t happen like this? Not now.  

We reached the house of my relatives. A woman opened the door with an apologetic look on her face.

“I’m sorry,” she said, “The guest room’s full.”

I spoke through gritted teeth; “There must be somewhere for us? Mary’s in labour.”

And so we ended up in the animal enclosure. Flies buzzed through the musty space, settling back on our faces as soon as we swatted them away. Mary lay down in the hay.

“I’m so sorry, Mary,” I said, “I let you down”. She managed a smile.

“Joseph”, she replied breathing deeply as the contractions began, “we’re lucky. Even now, God’s blessing us. He’s coming to be with us.”

Mary screamed. The place stank; the hay was wet.

When the baby finally came, we had to put him in the manger. I shook my head. “What is God doing?”

“Something new,” Mary said.

He gurgled and squeaked. He was my son. But as I looked at him wriggling in the hay, I knew that he was also something else…something bigger. 

“My Lord,” I whispered, “My Lord and my God.”