Magnificat of the Stable
We came to Bethlehem in early evening, exhausted from the long trip. The city already filled with Jews born here. Bethlehem, House of Bread, City of David, singer of songs, City of his grandmother, the beloved Ruth. There are families who return even to distant relatives, to birth their children here in family homes generation after generation. These Jews are gathered at the command of the Romans in order to record a census of the people born here.
We see Jews by the thousands, arriving from the west, the south, and like ourselves from the north. Jews are sleeping in the open fields, on the rooftops, for there are no rooms at the inns. The Roman census clerks and their women have confiscated all of the inn rooms for their numbers. We hear their drunken laughter surging through the open doors. The smell of their pigs roasting in the garden sickens us as they well know.
This is no place for our child to be born. The innkeeper looks at me with distress as he whispers that there is no room at his inn. But he turns from his house, motions to Joseph to follow as he leads us over the hills to the near empty eastern side of the city.
There he makes room in his private stable cave, away from the crowds and the noise. A newly cleaned place, safe, pure. He hurries back to his unwelcoming duties.
My soul rests confidently in the animal warmth and the lantern light of this simple place, Beloved Creator, and my spirit rejoices in the privacy of this time of birthing we share with you, O God of Creation, - for you come alive again tonight in the bone and flesh of your people. Yes, this is the time we have waited for. This is the moment of blessing.
Holy is birth, and you shall show yourself from age to age in those who enter into creation with you. You have shown the power of a dream enfleshed and we are humbled.
You have pulled down all our strivings and lifted up this simple, common moment. This stable is filled with good things, new life and happy people.
Are those in the inn rooms as satisfied? You have come to Israel, mindful of our shared nature, according to the promise of Eden . . . mindful of our nature to seek the wisdom of new life together as long as we walk the earth.
From Miryam of Nazareth by Ann Johnson