O Little Town Of Bethlehem

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.  And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born.She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

Sometimes I think it is cute how warped our traditional story of Christmas is. I don’t know how often it happens in our era but it used to be a right of passage during my childhood for all the kids to get together and dress up with bathrobes and towels to share this age old (mis)story. Of all the traditional characters in that play, I think the innkeeper is probably the most misunderstood. For one thing, the guy probably didn’t exist. Read Luke two. Read it again. No innkeeper is mentioned. (I didn’t bother to check such fictionalized Bibles as the Message but in any real translation he won’t be there.)

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