Clip, clop, clip, clop. The dust-covered donkey plodded steadily on, not knowing what a precious burden it carried on its back.
The journey had been long and Mary was very tired. But at last they arrived in Bethlehem. She rested on the donkey as Joseph looked for a place where they could stay. Oh, how good to have the traveling behind them for now and just sit still in the evening air.
"Mary . . ." Joseph gently touched his wife. Her weary eyes opened. "Mary, I have found a place." His low voice could not hide his relief. "It is true, every inn in all of Bethlehem is full. But the innkeeper here says we may use the stable in the back." He gathered up the reins of the donkey.
"It is well, Joseph," Mary answered him softly.
Something in her voice made Joseph stop. He looked closely at her sweet face. "Mary, is it time?"
She nodded. "Yes, Joseph. The child will soon be born."
As Joseph led the donkey toward the stable, he thought about the reason they had made this long, hard journey. Caesar had said that everyone had to pay taxes. And to do that, they all had to go back to the city where their families were from. That meant a lot of people had to travel a long way. But it had to be done. It was an order!
He thought back to the night when, in a dream, the angel had told him that Mary was to be the mother of God's Son, Jesus. Now it was time for this special Child to be born! But would He be born here, in a stable? He thought about these things as he helped Mary off the donkey.
They walked together into the stable. Mary found a comfortable place where she could lie down and rest. The hay smelled fresh and sweet. It felt soft and comforting to her after such a long ride.
Joseph stood looking at his wife, concern showing in his face.
"Do not be afraid, Joseph." Her voice held a note of wonder. "If Jesus is born in this place, then that is part of God's plan. We don't need to worry. God's ways are right."
So, in the still of the night, while the rest of the world was asleep, Baby Jesus was born.
Joseph looked with wonder at the tiny bundle he held in his arms.
The Son of God, he thought. Here in my arms is the living proof of God's love for man! His heart filled with joy as he wrapped the newborn baby and cradled Him gently in the manger.
Christmas is a time for music, a time for singing about our Savior. Fill your home with the sounds of carols, and take time to make sure your child understands their meanings. Sing together the songs he has been learning for the Sunday school Christmas program.
Help your child make a musical "instrument" that can be jingled to the rhythms of the Christmas carols. Tie jingle bells onto a paper plate with pieces of yarn. Let your child decorate the center of the plate with pictures cut from cards or wrapping paper. Staple or tape a loop of heavy paper to the back for a handle.