We have had a pleasant family day at mi casa.  The crew will descend on us tomorrow.  We are anticipating 8 here.  That said, the gifts are still under the tree.  Now that I’m an adult, it’s no longer torture to wait a bit longer to open the gifts.  I’m not worried about the arrival of Santa and am no longer trying to set up trip wire cameras or other means to catch parents in the act.  Granted, that was fun, and I was rewarded not by a picture, but by a yell of dad who hit the trip wire and verbalized the experience.  Anyways, that’s a small snippet of the day here.

I have also been working on a new project: Jesus and Mary.  This will be another musical comprising the interactions between Jesus and three different Marys.  The first is his mother, the second is the sister of Martha and Lazarus, the third is Mary Magdalen who was present at the cross and later at the tomb.  In doing this project, I have been looking carefully at the scriptures and also comparing maps and culture.  That said, there are quite a few traditions around the birth of Christ which I have had to question.  1.) the presence of Joseph.  Is there any mention of Joseph at the manger?  Culturally speaking, the man was not to touch his wife from a certain time during labor until a week later.  The women would gather and talk the mother through her birth.  The other women would provide support, back rubs, etc until the birth occurred.  After everything was done, the man would be allowed to see, but not touch his wife.  2.) the stable.  Again, the scripture says how there was no room in the inn/house (depending upon translation) and they went to the stable.  Considering the laws about child birth, it is reasonable to see that there was no private location for Mary to have birth except a place like the stable away from everyone there for the census.  By the way, the census was for counting the population, verifying their lineage and taxing them.  The persons would swear to their names, their parents’ names, note any particular bodily characteristic and get charged a tax.  3.) the house was mentioned later during the time with the wise men.

Let’s take a moment with the wise men.  They saw a star and followed the sign to Jerusalem.  I read some commentary that noted a prophecy in Judges where Baalam was asked to curse Israel and blessed instead.  In Numbers 24:17 it says that a star will rise in Jacob.  Some of the reading I found surmised that the wise men looked at the old prophecies and discovered the reference to the star and went to Israel to see the leader prophesied.  What’s really interesting about that is that it is a really reasonable observation as to the ability of the wise men to recognize Israel, but where it departs from tradition is that Balak who was hiring Balaam to curse was a leader in Moab.  That is a country just to the east of the Jordan river, or about 4 -5 days journey from Bethlehem.  In other words, it’s possible these were distant relatives of the Israelites, not travelers from Iran or China.

Now that I have researched this, I had to make a decision how much to place in the musical.  I chose to have Mary and Joseph directed towards the stable and then cut to the shepherds.  I’ll leave alone the details of the birth, how much pain was experienced and who was present.  Another by the way, I was dispelling any notion of a pain-free birth until a Catholic pointed at Isaiah 66:8.  I will leave it there for you to ponder.

What I have put together for the shepherds is a combination of song and scripture with two parts in mind as there are only going to be spouseinbox and myself doing the presentation.  Here it goes:

Another night in Bethlehem, the sheep are quiet still

Coyotes are out of sight we feel the breezes blow

our peaceful stillness is quite fine, excitement we don’t need

I have scars from that last time. A sheep, from coyote, I freed.

Glory! Glory! Glory! Glory to God!

Glory! Glory! Glory! Glory to God!

And on earth, peace, good will to men!

And on earth, peace, good will to men!

Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid

I bring you news.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David

a Savior who is Christ the Lord.

And this will be a sign unto you.

Yes, this will be a sign unto you.

You will find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes

and lying in a manger.

Glory! Glory! Glory! Glory to God!

Glory! Glory! Glory! Glory to God!

I sit here wide-eyed, almost cannot speak

What announcement we have heard tonight.

Let us go and see this baby boy

I imagine it must be quite a sight.

So across the hills we trek, maintaining herd of sheep

To see this wondrous baby boy who’s probably now asleep

But with such announcement we must go and follow angel’s words

and tell each person that we meet the message we have heard.

Come visitors, I did not know the message had been told

of special coming baby boy, Jesus, is his name who I show.

We had heard announcement from angels flying high

Stars danced in the heavens. God’s praise they did magnify.

The song they sang was:

Glory! Glory! Glory! Glory to God!

Glory! Glory! Glory! Glory to God!