First Moments

The night sky sparkled with countless stars. The hills were alive with whispered excitement and pounding hearts as the word spread. The Magi were on their way with gold, frankincense, and myrrh…the very symbol of death as the shadow of the cross loomed in the light of the bright star hanging over Bethlehem. Yet, in the stable, for now, all was still and quiet.

Mary watched as her husband kneeled down and wrapped their baby in the tattered cloth that had moments before covered his head. A calf craned its neck and caught the hem of it in his mouth. Joseph chuckled and pulled it away. The stable was warm with the animals sleeping around her, their smell floating on the stale air. A mama sheep had been restless during the entire ordeal, canvasing the room until Mary had finally given that last push and fell back with a sigh. Now, a tiny smile played at the corners of Mary's lips as she watched that mama sheep watching her sleeping son over Joseph's shoulder.

Her son…

The thought caused tears to gather in her eyes. In her heart, she knew that this tiny baby boy would never truly be her own. Yeshua would be the worlds.

Mary let her head fall back against the hay as her weary eyes drifted shut. Her entire body was worn through. Never had she endured all that she had within the last few weeks. The long trip was long and cold, the weight of the baby pressing deeper and harder as the pangs grew. She'd been so afraid that she would give birth to the Son of God out in the open with the whole world as witness. But it had not been so. It had been animals that had bore witness…filthy, unknowing, innocent creatures cast their eyes on the first glimpse of the tiny boy...

She’d held him as soon as Joseph handed him to her. His face was red as he drew his first breath and let a cry fill the stable. “Hush, now,” she cooed softly, pressing her lips to the top of his downy head. “Momma has you.”

Five tiny fingers on each hand balled up in fists.; tiny little toes on unthinkably small feet. He was perfect…

Just then, Joseph came to lie beside Mary. She opened her eyes to find her husband smiling down at her. He took her hand in his and pressed it to his lips. “He’s sleeping," he whispered. “You need to sleep as well.”

How could anyone sleep…?

Mary was quiet for a long while, her eyes on the wooden manger . She could her son with a chubby fist in his mouth. Resting against her husband, she whispered, “I remember the tales of Daniel about the Messiah that would come to give us everlasting atonement.” Her voice grew heavy with emotion. “Never, Joseph, would I have ever dreamed that God Almighty would choose me to bring the Messiah into the world.

Joseph pulled her closer, soothing her the best that he could, but in truth, he had no answer. For months, the question had haunted them. How could they love him, raise him up, show him the way…when they too would receive this baby boy as their savior? “I imagine,” he finally said, searching his heart, “that our Father in Heaven prepared us while creating us in His hands, to have the ability, the hearts, the minds…to raise His son in this dark world.” He paused to kiss Mary’s troubled forehead before smiling with tears of uncertainty shining in his eyes. “And we shall do so, Mary. We will love Yeshua with every breath within us until his day has come.”

A single tear slid down her cheek. The baby whimpered. She watched her husband wrap the tiny baby boy in his arms, smiling down at him and whispering something she could not hear. then he turned to her, love wreathing in face. Joseph bent and carefully placed their son in her arms. "He's hungry, I think," Joseph said, pulling his index finger out of the boy's greedy mouth. She giggled.

Mary stared down in wonder as she nursed him. He looked so innocent, and yet, she knew what he would do to this world.

Joseph reached out and brushed away a stray strand of hair that fell across his wife’s cheek. “You will love him as no other mother can, Mary. And he will love you all the more in return.”

The couple settled together against the hay with the baby Messiah cradled in their arms. They knew the long journey that would come down the road, the trials and tribulations that would surface in their lives and in the life of Jesus. But at that moment, with shepherd boys peering through the stable windows and the star shining its light down upon them, all that mattered was that they were holding God’s gift to the entire world.

“I’ll love him as I pray the world will one day love him,” Mary whispered as Yeshua drifted off into slumber. “I will love him with all my heart, mind, and soul."


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