Sleep-Walking and Not-So-Silent Nights
Bed can be a dangerous place for Jesus and for me. For the infant Jesus, he slept in a cold barn full of unsanitary livestock and a cadre of Roman soldiers, spears in hand, around every corner. (The sleepy little town of Bethlehem was in occupied Roman territory). “Away in a Manger” has some serious issues. When the cattle moo and the donkeys neigh, the sound is not lullaby level. The barn was noisy and I’ll bet Jesus squalled his little lungs out.
For me, bed is a dangerous place every night. You see, my husband Roger is a sleep-walker. He is a sleep-talker as well. Every night when we go to sleep, I really should carry a baseball bat to protect myself. At best, he flaps his arms wildly because he thinks he can fly. At worst, he is at war with the Germans, screaming full-force and poking me at gunpoint (usually his right index finger. I’m glad it’s not loaded!) This summer we took our kids, Bronwyn and Richard, to Italy. To save dinero, we slept in the same room. Richard swears Roger sang opera in his sleep. Too much pizza and gelato, in my estimation.
When I try to wake my hubby up, He doesn’t. He just talks back to me and swears that he’s awake. Anyway, we think a spray bottle of water may be our only hope. Either that, or I’ll banish him to the bubba chair in the living room.
Yep, bed can be a dangerous place. And the journey of Mary and Joseph was a dangerous journey. The pilgrimage to Joseph’s ancestral home was uphill in mountainous terrain.
Luke tells us that Mary and Joseph travelled from Nazareth to Bethlehem (as in “O little town…”) The distance in a straight line from Nazareth to Bethlehem is not important to the time such a journey would have taken. Samaria lay between Galilee and Judea, the region in which the tiny town of Bethlehem lay. Samaritans and the Jews had issues and they treated Jewish travelers pretty much the same as the French treat every tourist these days (with disdain!) Happy meals and Dairy Queen blizzards could not be found along the way. The couple probably survived on stale bread, moldy cheese and a few dried figs. Any lone traveller crossing from Galilee into Samaria would be at risk of attack and would certainly not receive lodgings or any other type of assistance on the journey. Mary and Joseph’s family would have had to journey eastward, crossing over into modern-day Jordan and then travel south on the eastern side of the Jordan River, before crossing back into Judea. We’re talking a long trek to pay your taxes. Thank God we all don’t have to walk to Washington D.C. every year! What a pain!
Most pregnant women are told not to travel in their last trimester of pregnancy. Not Mary. She made the arduous trip in her ninth month on the back of a bouncing donkey. Sitting on the back of a donkey for Mary felt like she was dribbling a basketball in her abdomen. They both probably wondered if she’d go into labor on the road. A buff Jewish man leading this donkey could have, at a guess, traveled perhaps 20 miles a day. However, some Christians say that Joseph must have been an older dude, way past his prime. Perhaps the best guess is that this journey would have taken at least a week. Ouch…
The night was not silent, but it was definitely holy. We know that a super-nova lit up the sky and angels and shepherds gathered to celebrate the arrival of the new King-Messiah.
The painful cost of coming to earth started in-utero. Such sacrifice included stripping off Jesus’ heavenly glory, omniscience and power to become a helpless baby. The cost increased like inflation. His sacrifice included a cross and a tomb. But the payoff was the resurrection and our salvation. I’m so glad He made the trip.
Now, about my husband’s snoring…