I remember watching Christmas plays as a child with innkeepers saying, “No rooms!” as they slammed the door on Joseph and nine-month-pregnant Mary. How could those people be so cold-hearted, offering no assistance to a teenage girl about to give birth? When I had children of my own, I knew how difficult it was to travel at the end of a pregnancy. I couldn’t understand why Joseph would put his about-to-deliver wife on a donkey for the journey to Bethlehem.
My husband, Steve, and I went on a pilgrimage to Israel in the fall of 2019. We visited the Herodium fortress late one afternoon, just south of Bethlehem. As we stood at the foot of the mountain overlooking Bethlehem, some shepherd boys joined us with their sheep. With the sun setting and shepherds by our side, we looked toward Bethlehem as our guide shared a heartwarming retelling of the Christmas Story. To hear this compassionate account thrilled my heart as the night descended upon the little town of our Lord’s birth.