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Today, an expectant mother prepares earnestly for the birth of her child, looking forward to the day she will finally gaze upon her infant nestled in her arms. So much to do before that day, though. There is a nursery to prepare, a hospital bag to pack, dinners to stuff a freezer, possibly a baby shower to share the excitement with friends and family. When at long last, labour begins, she is off to the hospital to have every luxury possible given to her. A bed to labour in, nurses to attend her needs, a doctor at hand should anything go awry, medicine for if the pain is too great, and sometimes even family members.

Not so on the quiet night the Savior came into the world. His mother rode into Bethlehem, with no fanfare, to a town where she knew no one. She laboured and delivered without the aid of anyone she knew while in a manger surrounded by animals.

He came down to earth from heaven,
Who is God and Lord of all,
And his shelter was a stable
And his cradle was a stall.
(Once in Royal David’s City by Cecil Frances Alexander)

Those citizens in Bethlehem as well as the visitors awaiting taxing had no idea what happened and instead went on in their business.

O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting light.
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.
(O Little Town of Bethlehem by Phillips Brooks)

Everyone went on their daily business, oblivious to the important role there town played in history. Businessmen performed their daily tasks, tradesmen worked on their trade. Alone in the hustle and bustle, one innkeeper reached out to someone in need and gave all he had to this little family, and it is he we remember most from Bethlehem.

Today, when a baby is born, we announce the arrival with all manner of fanfare. We burn up the phone lines with joyous news, newborn photos are taken, announcements mailed out. Some announcements are simple. I have a copy of a telegraph announcing my father’s birth. It reads simply: Baby boy born. All well. A distant family member could know that my father not only arrived, but that he and my grandmother were healthy.

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