Next for Mary is the trip to Bethlehem with Joseph. Again she is going out of her comfort zone, and she is due to have a baby any time. If the baby is born away from home, she has no mother with her to help her through. Nothing familiar to comfort her. Next she is confronted with no place to stay. The Bible does not give us any clue as to Mary's attitude with all this, but it would be like having a baby, 100 miles from home, camping out in a tent, with no amenities at all. I can't imagine how amazed she must have been, perhaps scared, and wondering what God intended with all this strangeness. When Jesus is born what did she think when she looked at His little face? She gazed at Him with a mother's heart, but at the same time...this was God's son! Why her, why here, and what now? How overwhelmed she must have felt. Did that night with angels, bright star, shepherds, and a crude stable blur from one image to another? Did she grasp the major importance of this event?
What about Joseph. We don't know how old he was, but older than Mary. He is engaged to a nice girl, and then he learns she is going to have a baby. He knows it isn't his. Would you be able to understand this? He too is visited by an angel, and assured all will be well. We in our lives may have entertained angels and not known it, but these angels were there specifically to bring messages from God. Joseph as far as we know, took care of Mary, and was willing to also accept God's plan. Did he have moments of a lot of doubt. Did he feel betrayed, and reluctant to take on the care of a baby that was not his? He has a lot of responsibility to get a wife, who is due to have a baby anytime, and himself to another town just to register and pay taxes. This has to be out of his comfort zone too.
Now it's a quiet ordinary night, shepherds are out settling their flocks. All of a sudden a brilliant star appears, and then an angel comes from heaven to tell you about a baby born in a stable, and He is God's son. I can only imagine what they must have thought. Were these amazing things a part of their normal world...probably not. During one presentation of our pageant, the goat I was leading, got spooked by the loud music. When I tried to quiet him, and lead him, he reared up on his back legs. Imagine a whole flock of sheep, and goats when a blinding, bright light, and a voice from the sky erupts their normal quiet. All it would take would be one animal to react, and they all would follow. It probably was hard not to be a little upset by the disruption.
The Bible does not tell us how long Mary and Joseph actually occupied the stable. Once people started to leave town after the census, did they get a room? We know they were advised to go on to Egypt to protect Jesus, but we don't know what happened in between. Did more people come to see Jesus, or did they just spend time resting and taking care of their new son? What did they do for food? Did people offer to feed them, or did they bring a lot of food with them? If the Bible doesn't address something, we are to trust God that it is not relevant, but natural human curiosity makes me wonder about the ordinary. I also wonder as I wear the same costume night after night for the Pageant, did they have more than one outfit? Did they have access to a place to wash their clothes? And did Biblical people have as much trouble putting on the head gear as I have been having each night? As one lady in our dressing room said, they probably just put them on and did not even worry about how it looked. They were for practical reasons and not part of a costume.
When I think about all our luxuries I wonder if I could have gone through what Mary did. Then I remember that their life was simpler, but also harder. Mary and Joseph were asked to go way beyond comfort, and the things they knew for God's overall plan. If I pay attention God will move me out of my comfort zone too to do what He has for me to do. They trusted God. I trust God. They had the Holy Spirit to lead and guide them. I have the Holy Spirit to lead and guide me too. We are not so different, yet I wonder how well I would have done, had I been living in that time. It is hard to imagine sometimes....and that's all the more reason to wonder!