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A Very Special Birth

January 1, 2022

Another Way for week of December 24, 2021

A Very Special Birth

Last week I wrote about Marjorie Holmes’ famous and prolific fiction books. She wrote about Mary and Joseph in the Bible and how the birth of Jesus might have went. How do we know the facts about Jesus’ birth? I imagine that Mary and Joseph told and shared his birth story with him as he was growing up, and later with the friends and disciples of Jesus. So what is written down in the gospels of Matthew and Luke is likely very close to accurate. But those passages do not contain a lot of information, although we can be thankful for what is there.

Tradition in those times was that men or husbands did not help with the birth of a child, but rather women were generally brought in as midwives. But Mary and Joseph were winging it on their own, being far from family because of the edict to travel to Joseph’s hometown of Bethlehem to be counted in a census.

In Holmes’ book, Two from Galilee: A Love Story of Mary and Joseph, an excerpt from that special night in the stable has Mary telling Joseph, “Go fetch some water, some hot water if you can get it. Go to the herdsmen at the door and see if they can give us some.” How many movies or sitcoms about a woman giving birth in an emergency situation start with “Go get hot water.”? She adds not to take time to find a midwife at her stage of labor.

As Mary groans in her travail, (Holmes uses old Biblical terms), she tells Joseph that if she dies in childbirth: “You must know one thing. I did not sin. You are the only man I have ever loved.”

Earlier, Joseph had finally been alerted in a dream not to shy away from taking Mary as his wife. The dream included the well-known prophecy that “A virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel.” Joseph knew, as every believing Jewish person of the day did, that the scriptures had predicted a Messiah would be born who would save them all from the Roman empire which inflicted so much pain for the people.

When Mary reminds her husband—in the midst of her gut-wrenching labor—that she is indeed a virgin, Joseph (in this novel) is ripped apart mentally. “That this could be uppermost in her mind at such a time seemed to him unutterably pathetic. And that he could have doubted—unendurable. ‘I know how pure you are. God forgive me for doubting even for a minute,’” he tells her. Joseph tries to comfort her saying “And you won’t die. God would not allow it.”

Childbirth is almost always extremely stressful, especially with a first child. Today most modern couples struggle through labor together. In Holmes’s telling, Mary gathers her wits and strength and tells Joseph to get a fire going to warm the swaddling clothes she had brought along. She reminds Joseph they will need to bath the baby when it is born, and that a knife must be dipped in hot water before cutting the umbilical cord, and to tie off the cord securely.

Finally, Joseph is excited to assure Mary, “I can see its little head! You must strive harder, beloved. Bear down, bear down.”

She bore down and the baby came forth. “Joseph lifted him up for her to see. And they looked upon him together and marveled … And when he squirmed in Joseph’s arms and uttered his first cry, the thrill … ran through both of them, for this was life, human life, and they knew that a miracle had been achieved.”

Not many sermons at Christmastide have gotten this real, this intense, this descriptive.

And so the baby Jesus was born, safely. In time, he grew up to be a man with a very special mission. We know the bitter end on the cross, for our sakes, and the happier outcome of Christ’s resurrection. I pray that this retelling helps bring the reality of Christ’s birth and purpose to life for all of us. Merry Christmas! And now, happy New Year. And a happy Easter to come!

Send your thoughts or comments to or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

  1. Thank you. . . will Tweet this.
    Happy New Year!

  2. I enjoyed your little New Year’s greeting; launching a YouTube channel! I’m very impressed. You do well, sparkly shoes and all.

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