Joseph man calls to me, “Donkey!” in Aramaic, but I not listen. These four legs want to quick run to the Jordan. Thirsty I am.
Joseph man grabs my tether. He shakes his head. “You must slow down, Khmaarraa. I do not want Mary to fall off!”
I bad. I forget I carry supplies and lady human. I bray. I am sorry. But Joseph man, he covers his ears. He does not understand my talk.
“A blessing to be here at the Jordan,” Mary lady says. Joseph man comes to help her down from my back. She puts her hand over a big bump under her wool cloak. Her belly, big like mine. Maybe she goes to eat as often as I go to pasture?
But no. I hear Mary lady talk of a baby kicking. She makes a home for it inside her belly.
“We must go, Mary. There is no time to waste.” I look over. Mary’s face is sad.
“I am hurting, Joseph. The ride is bumpy.”
“Maybe it would be best if you walk for a while.”
“Yes, perhaps so. You told me this would not be easy, Joseph, but I did not know the hills would be so steep and rocky.”
“I know, my dear Mary. I wish I could make it more comfortable for you.”
My ears prick back. I hear sounds. I watch. Over the hill others come. Soon, I see a rich man pass by with his entourage on fine, well-groomed donkeys. They are much larger than me. Joseph man and Mary lady look, too. Rich man lets out fat laugh. “Will you look at that little donkey? He will never make it up these mountains!” The other peoples with him laugh, too.
Joseph man and Mary lady pay no attention, but I feel sad all the way until the sun go to bed. Mary lady says she glad to have small donkey. Better fit for her. I glad she like Khmaarraa.
My fur is thick, yet I shiver. Mary lady cold. Joseph man take blankets to wrap onto her. He gather sticks to make fire on the ground. “This will keep us warm,” he says. “It will freeze tonight.”
In the fire light, Mary lady take hard bread from a sack and put oil and herb on it. She unwrap dry fish for to eat with the bread. Joseph man come. He loose my tether. I forage along the riverbank, chew tree bark, and take drink. My belly soon will not look so big. He sit down next to Mary lady for eat by the fire on the ground.
Later, Joseph man lays awake. He says sleep will not come. I, too, hear howl of coyote and rush of wild boar come near. Mary lady awakens with a scare. I feel a scare, too. Mary lady says prayer. She says she talk to God often. I just Khmaarraa and do not know many things. I not see this God of whom she speaks; I think in my mind God must be good listener.
Joseph man tries not to do complain, but he saying the journey is “grueling.” I think he tired. “Long days, long nights,” he says, “and tomorrow will be ten days on these rocky goat trails—and now we’re getting rainstorms.”
I try not to do complain, but I tired, too.
Sudden thunder shake ground. I have scare. I bray and try to run. Joseph man run to me, make me still. Water pour from sky. Joseph man and Mary lady hold blanket over them, but rain soaking them. My fur soaking, too. I shiver in my legs.
May lady says her back is pain. My back is pain, too. Her foot is pain; my hoof is pain. Mary lady sometimes cry the tears, but not tell Joseph man. I feel cry inside too. Khmaarraa sad for Mary lady.
In the black night, big star shines bright. Joseph man comes shouting with dance in his arms and legs. “Come, look, Mary! I can see Bethlehem over the ridge!” Mary lady goes to stand with him. She looks out. I see happy water travel down from her eyes.
“Joseph,” Mary gasps, holding her abdomen. “We must hurry. I believe my time is near.” Joseph gathers supplies, then pulls on my rope. I tired, but he says to me, “Khmaarraa,” your legs must go fast. We must help Mary.”
Mary lady holds tight on my back. “Let’s go, Khmaarraa!” Joseph man yells.
I move quick, just like when I run my four legs fast to the Jordan.
Cold wind bite my nose until we in Bethlehem town.
“I can’t believe how many people are here,” Joseph man says.
“We must find a place quickly, Joseph,” Mary lady says.
We go to Inn for Joseph man to make talk to Innkeeper. “Please, we need a room. This woman is going to give birth,” he says. But Innkeeper shake his head. He sorry. “There is no room in the Inn.”
We go more. We look. Then, a human-kind sees Joseph man leading me and Mary lady riding upon me. He makes talk to Joseph man. “You are welcome to stay in the stable,” he says.
The eyes of Joseph, they look like the sun gives shine! And Mary lady gives smile even though she makes groan.
We get to stable. I happy! Hay, water, other four-legs here.
Joseph makes fast to help Mary lady. I put head down to eat. But Joseph man says, “Wait, Khmaarraa.” He makes me to move. He take hay to make place for Mary lady. He take hay for to put in manger.
Bright star shines down making light. Joseph man he give to me quick the hay to eat and water to drink. Soon I hear cry—not Mary lady cry—baby cry.
Joseph man and Mary lady shout happy words to God. I just Khmaaraa, donkey, but I know special time has come. Bright light shining down. Then Joseph man look. He says, “The Wise Men come bearing gifts from afar.” I glad Joseph man know of smart men.
Joseph man look at me and little baby in Mary lady arms. They smile. I think they smile to me.
I glad to be Khmaaraa donkey, Jerusalem donkey. It is true. I have “fur ridge,” they say, “in the shape of a cross on my back.” I glad to carry Mary lady to stable. Now, she have baby. Special baby, they say, “Son of God.” I do not know these things. I only small donkey, but I glad helper for Mary lady. We go long way this journey.
Joseph man and Mary lady look at the sky. They say big “Thank you” to God.
I do not know these things like human-kind, but I happy for Joseph man and Mary lady. I happy for baby, “Son of God.” Maybe he be good listener, too. Khmaarraa make bray sound in throat. Khmaarraa happy!
Merry Christmas from the perspective of the donkey who may have accompanied Mary and Joseph on their difficult journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Scripture does not specify if Mary actually rode a donkey, but these animals were a common form of transportation at the time, and due to Mary being in her ninth month of pregnancy, it would have certainly made the journey for her a bit easier.
The Jerusalem (Nubian) donkey has a fur ridge on its back in the shape of a cross. We do not know if this was one of the donkeys that Jesus rode on Palm Sunday, but it is a possibility. And might this type of donkey also be the one used for Mary as she carried the unborn Christ Child to Bethlehem?
We may never know the answers to these questions, but one thing is certain: the Savior, the King of the World, was born on that cold, still night over 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem!
We marvel at the sights and sounds of Christmas in the Sanctuary, the blue paraments and décor of Advent displayed, the altar candles and Christmas tree lights aglow, with red and white Poinsettias lining the steps of the altar.
We listen with anticipation to hear the Scripture story of Jesus' birth again, the same story that has been recounted over the past 2,000 years. Then, beloved Christmas carols stir our hearts and minds as we prepare our hearts in celebration.
There is one hymn left to sing before the service comes to a close. Whispers cease as each worshiper’s candle is lit, lights are dimmed, and together we sing the captivating melody of Silent Night accompanied by guitar. Within the sea of candles, faces glow as the light takes over the darkness.
If there was ever a moment that brought peace to our hearts, this was one of those times.
Light. It fascinates us, draws us in, mesmerizes us, whether we are immersed in a sea of candlelight in worship or basking in the glow of Christmas décor in our homes.
The Shepherds, too, must have been drawn in and mesmerized by the light of the Bethlehem star that guided them to the birthplace of Jesus.
Light. It gives us a feeling of warmth, hope, and joy, and we yearn to be in its presence. But the true source of all light is God Himself. He is the Light. The Bible is filled with Scripture that reveals this. A few of those verses are listed below:
"This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all." – John 1:5
"And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light." – Genesis 1:3
"Your Word is a lamp for my feet a light on my path." – Psalm 119:105
"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." - John 1:5
"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." – 1 John 1:7
Christmas may be different in our churches and our homes this year due to Covid; however, one thing will not change, and that is God’s love for us.
In this Christmas season, may you draw close and reside in the all-encompassing light of God's love for you, and be reminded that He is the Light that shines through all darkness.
It’s that time of year again! You’ve chosen your favorite recipes—some handed down from your grandparents—and you’ve double-checked your shopping list to make sure you have all the needed ingredients.
You close your eyes for a moment and breathe in the delectable aroma of celery, onion, and sage simmering on the stove. You are eager to prepare the best meal possible for your family and friends.
Some guests bring their favorite dishes to share. Others bring hearty appetites, ready to indulge in the meal you have worked so hard to prepare.
But sometimes, recipes aren’t perfect, and neither are oven temperatures—or cooks. You didn’t intend for the turkey to come out dry or for the rolls to turn crispy on the edges, but it happened.
Families aren’t perfect, either. Uncle Buzz was calm until he’d had a few beers and took a swing at Rudy when he changed the football game channel. Junior didn’t watch where he was going and accidentally spilled a can of red soda all over your new tan carpeting. Then, to top it off, Aunt Itzie yelled at you because your meal wasn’t gluten-free—but she hadn’t informed you of that until now.
But no matter the kitchen glitches, behaviors of family or guests, recipes used, or dishes served, there is an ingredient that should stand out as the most important one at Thanksgiving: thankfulness.
This year, the holidays will be different for many people who cannot be together due to the pandemic. However, despite these uncertain times, we can still join our hearts in appreciation for one another and for all we have (including forgiveness for certain cooks, Uncle Buzz's, Juniors, and Aunt Itzie's of the world).
Thankfulness—it’s one thing we can keep at the top of the shopping list.
“You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” – 2 Corinthians 9:11
“Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.” – Hebrews 13:15
It's a phrase we learn as when we're first learning to speak; one of the most commonly used in our language. Can you imagine the number of times you say "Thank You" every day? It would be hard to track, wouldn't it?
We are so accustomed to using these words we may not even realize when they come from our lips. It is customary to show appreciation for what others do for us. It may be a simple appreciation for having someone hold the door for us, or as elaborate as showing gratitude for an honor bestowed, or a gift of a lifetime.
There are varying degrees; however, between our use of the phrase when we use it mindfully versus when we say it out of habit. As Thanksgiving approaches, we tend to be a bit more conscientious--saying Thank You in our prayers at the Thanksgiving table or showing appreciation for family and friends.
Not every country celebrates a specific Thanksgiving holiday as we do; however, everywhere around the world, Thank You's are spoken each day. According to the "Ethnologue" database, there are "7,117 living languages" in existence. Take that number, multiply it by the population of each country, add the total of all of the countries in the world, and be sure to include the average number of times most people would use the phrase. And include an estimate of the number of Thanks You's that would be shown to God in prayer. It would certainly add up to an infinitesimal number!
As you give thanks, whether on Thanksgiving Day--or any other day--imagine the gratefulness that is expressed in all of the languages of the world--the languages that were also derived from the One above who gave us life.
Thank You and God's Blessings to you in this season of gratitude!
Psalm 106:1 - "Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever."
Psalms 92:1-2 - "It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to Your Name, O Most High; to delcare Your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night."
Every day throughout the pandemic, I have prayed for "shielded protection and safety" for my family, friends, church, community, nation, and world, in the hope that we might be free from--and unaffected by--the Coronavirus.
The other day, as I pondered this request for physical wellness, it occurred to me that it might be a good idea to pray for spiritual health and wellness, too.
We can wear face shields and masks, use hand sanitizer, practice handwashing, maintain proper physical distancing. These act as barriers--"outisde shields" to keep us safe. But, spiritually-speaking, we need to be shielded on the "inside," too.
Perhaps you've seen the recent headlines? A percentage of Coronavirus patients develop anxiety or depression within three months after diagnosis. Not surprisingly, cases of anxiety and depression have also surged for those who do not have Covid, with all that 2020 has brought our way.
Our world is full of uncertainty right now, but one thing that remains constant and unfailing is God's Word and His love for us. The following verses taken from the Book of Psalms describe the shielded protection and safety that faith in God provides for us:
For comfort, from Psalms 28:7: "The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him."
When you seek refuge, from Psalms 91:4, "He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge, His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark."
When you seek strength, from Psalms 18:2, "The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, My shield and the horn of my Salvation, my stronghold."
My hope for you this week is that you will be encouraged and uplifted through God's Word. May you awaken each morning, feeling safe and secure--through His Word and through His love for you.
Through God's Word!"
Find inner peace through Positive Thought, through Faith in God and through God's Word.