A story for Christmas, 2019
My name is Rebecca. I am ten years old, and I live in Judaea, in a town called Bethlehem. It’s usually a very quiet sort of place, but last night it was anything but! First, there were lots of extra people in town – Dad said the Romans wanted everyone to go back to where they were born so they could be counted up for tax. Typical Romans, he said, always wanting our money.
Lots of our cousins were visiting, and the house was packed! The guest room was full and there were people sleeping on the roof, and I had to share my bed with my little cousin, who snores! It was really hard to get to sleep, and there seemed to be some sort of star outside that stopped it getting properly dark.
Then someone knocked at the door when it was already late, and I woke up again. Two more visitors! I crept out to see who it was this time. I didn’t know them and there were no cousins to play with. The lady looked really tired and had a big tummy like when there’s a baby coming soon. Mum told them there was no more room for them, but then she noticed something about the lady, and whispered to Dad. Dad said they could sleep in the stable round the back – but how about the animals? I asked. It was my job to look after them, – our cow was going to have her calf any day, and the goats could be grumpy with people they didn’t know.
Shh, Mum said. These people need shelter tonight. There will be enough room.
Oh well, Mum and Dad said they could stay, so it’ll be ok.
I went back to bed and tried to sleep with my cousin snoring beside me.
I was woken up again by a sound of singing!
What on earth now? I heard Dad grumbling.
When I looked out the window there were bright shining people singing a beautiful song, and they were up in the sky! I rubbed my eyes, sure I was dreaming.
Dad, Dad! I shouted. He was standing staring too, and when I realised he could see them too I knew they were real.
Are they angels, Dad, I asked? Because I couldn’t think what else they could be, shining up in the sky like that.
I think they must be, said Dad. He listened to the song with me, and we woke everyone else up so they could see them too. As we were standing in the glowing light of the angels singing, we saw more visitors coming our way. No, not more, groaned Mum, who wondered how to feed them. Then we saw that these were people we knew, the shepherds who worked out in the hills. I often took our goats up to the hills where they had their sheep, and they were friendly, but they didn’t usually come into the town.
Hi, Samuel, I called out to the youngest shepherd, who was my age. What are you doing here?
We saw the star, and the angels told us to follow it to Bethlehem!
Why? I asked.
They told us there’s a baby being born here, who will be the King of kings! Oh, Rebecca, what if this is the Messiah our people have been waiting for?
Could it be, Dad? I asked.
Well, It’s been a very unusual night so far, he said. We’ll see.
The shepherds didn’t come to the front door, but went around the back. The star seemed to have a special ray pointing just there, and they stopped by the stable door. Just as the oldest shepherd, Zachariah, tapped on the door, we heard the cry of a new baby!
The angels said he would be born here, they said, and began to pile in, but Mum said, hang on, go quietly, and don’t crowd them. I was a bit worried about the goats too.
I was dying to see the baby – they’re so cute when they’re new. I wanted to cuddle him, but Mum said wait.
The shepherds stayed a little while, and when they came out they were all quiet and smiling, and old Zachariah had tears running down his cheeks. My friend Samuel had wide round eyes, and said to me,
It’s him! The King has been born!
Just then the lady saw me at the doorway and beckoned me to come in.
Come and see my baby, she said. His name is Jesus.
Hello Jesus, I’m Rebecca. I put my finger in his tiny hand and he clasped it.
The lady told me she was called Mary, and her husband was Joseph. He was very protective, and kept glaring at the goats in case they got too close. But for once they seemed to be happy with the visitors, and said hello to me in their goat way, by butting me gently with their heads. The cow was happy too, resting in the corner.
Mary was really tired and needed somewhere to put the baby down. There was only the floor, and the feed box for the animals, which I had filled up with hay before I went to bed.
Put him there, I said. It’ll be soft and warm, and the animals won’t mind.
Good idea, said Mary. Joseph nodded too, but still looked a bit worried about the goats.
I told the goats, you can’t eat out of the manger tonight, the baby needs it.
They seemed to understand, and folded their legs up to sleep.
Your baby is beautiful, I said to Mary.
He is special, Mary told me. He is the Son of God.
I wondered about that, but when I looked at the baby Jesus, I could see a light shining from him, that filled my heart up with happiness. I couldn’t stop smiling.
Everyone who saw the baby last night came away really happy, and peaceful. Even in our full and busy household, everyone was happy and no one got grumpy. Even the animals are happy.
I don’t know why Mary and Joseph had their baby here in our stable, but I’m glad they did.