Her face shone with sweat. She didn’t know how long ago the last contraction was; watches weren’t invented yet. She leaned against a manger filled with hay and braced for the next pain.
There wasn’t time to find the midwife of Bethlehem. She’d felt the contractions the last few miles of the trip. They came faster and faster, announcing the imminent arrival of her baby.
The little town was jammed. There was no room on the square, and every house overflowed. One kind soul offered them a cave behind the house where the animals were kept. It was better than giving birth in the street; at least there would be some privacy.
She had seen women in labor in her home village of Nazareth. She had seen some of those women die during labor and die after labor from blood loss. When the angel spoke to her nine months earlier, she was not naïve. To agree to carry God’s child carried the real possibility of her own death.
The tightening began again. The intensity quickened. This time there was no let up. The moment had come.
She told her husband, “The Baby is coming. Help me.” He offered his arm, she squatted over the dirt, and strained. She felt the movement of the baby. Aided by gravity, he was making his way into his world.
Her husband knelt for a look. “I see his head!” he exclaimed. “We’re almost there!”
The intensity was overwhelming. The moment was here.
Joseph looked at her, and said “Push!”
Out came the head, the shoulders, the chest, and finally, the legs.
With that last push, God with us – Immanuel – arrived at last.
From all the Smiths – Clay, Gina, Abram, Hannah, and Sarah – May the God who is with us bring you blessings of love, belonging, and grace this Christmas and this New Year.