Eleven engaging stories to deepen your family’s Christmas celebrations.
Rev. Janet Stobie’s unique perspective on the Biblical account of Jesus’ birth will bring you laughter and tears.
SAMPLE STORY – told by Janet Stobie
The Last Shall Be First pt. 1
The Last Shall Be First pt. 2
What is Christmas all about anyway?
In today’s society, as we prepare for Christmas it’s easy to get so caught up in buying gifts and planning the family gathering, that we lose track of the origin and meaning of Christmas. As a child, the Christmas story for me, was mostly fun. I liked babies and loved being part of the Christmas drama at church. Even as an adult, I found it hard to identify with the characters in the story. I knew I was celebrating the birth of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us, but the story itself had little relevance for my life.
I wrote “Can I Hold Him?” to help others understand that our precious Christmas story deals with real life issues similar to ours today. I have used my research of the context of the story and my imagination to add the details and feelings that are not mentioned in the Biblical story. My belief is that when you identify with the character, you will find wisdom for your life.
In Mary’s story, “Isn’t He Beautiful”, you will discover a young teenager, pregnant before marriage, an outcast in her society. Although today we are more accepting, teenage pregnancy still carries with it a myriad of problems just as it did for Mary. Today’s working pregnant women will find it easy to identify with Mary’s exhaustion and fear, after walking and riding a donkey the eighty miles to Bethlehem. Young fathers will understand Joseph’s desperation as he searches for a place for the baby to be born.
I suggest you begin this book about one month before Christmas. Read a story; spend a few days thinking about what it has to say for your life today; then read another story.
I added four contemporary stories as well. “That’s Not Your Baby” actually happened to me. Please use these stories as a means of preparing yourself and your family for Christmas.
I have told these stories as monologues in intergenerational worship, adapted them as Sunday School drama, and even used them for adult bible studies.
CAN I HOLD HIM?
Table of Contents
Isn’t He Beautiful
I’m An Angel
Can I Hold Him?
That’s Not Your Baby
The Last Shall Be First
The Reluctant Shepherd
Melchie, the Third Wiseman
A Life Completed
An Ancient Love Story
Sample of Story
Can I Hold Him?
I saw him! I talked with him! Jesus, the great teacher and healer from Galilee. He’s wonderful. He teaches with such passion about God’s love and forgiveness. My heart soared as I listened to him. Jesus cares about all of us, even the children. He laughed with such joy as he listened to their stories. He took them in his arms and blessed them. Jesus is truly wonderful. They are saying that he is the promised one, the Messiah who is described in our Holy Scriptures. I believe it’s true. Oh, yes, I do.
Actually, I’ve known for a long time that this man named Jesus was the Messiah. I learned about him on the night he was born. It’s been more than thirty years, and yet the memory is so vivid, it seems like only yesterday. Let me tell you about it.
That particular year, Caesar Augustus had decreed that everyone should return to the place of their birth to be registered for the tax. Bethlehem was teeming with people. Our business had doubled. I remember my father rubbing his hands together in satisfaction and saying, “Thank you, Caesar, thank you,” as he scurried around the inn.
The night Jesus was born, loud, boisterous men filled our inn. Sweating bodies surrounded me, each one demanding something. I was up before dawn, fetching and carrying, preparing food, washing dishes. I thought the day would never end.
As I cleared away the evening meal, I heard a persistent pounding on the door. “Who is it now?” I wondered. I tripped over someone’s outstretched leg and almost fell as I struggled through the people to the door. I wrenched it open and without looking up shouted above the din, “No room. We’re full.” I tried to slam the door shut but the man had his foot in the way. It was only then that I looked up and saw them. A beautiful young woman, great with child, sat on a donkey. She winced with pain. The man reached out and grabbed my arm, his eyes wild with desperation.
“Get your master!” he commanded.
I knew what Father would say, but I had no choice. I shrugged off his arm, turned on my heel and yelled, “Father! Father!” as I threaded my way through the crowd toward the kitchen. Out of the gloom and smoke, Father appeared at my elbow with Mother standing close behind him.
“What is it?” he roared above the din.
I put my mouth to his ear and shouted, “There’s a couple at the door wanting…
“There’s no room. We’re full,” he interrupted. Then, pushing me aside, he stomped off towards the door muttering to himself.
I turned to Mother and pleaded, “Isn’t there some way we can help them? The woman is going to have a baby.”
“Get back into the kitchen; the dishes are piled high,” she scolded. A tear slipped down my cheek. Mother reached out with her apron and wiped it away. “My sweet Hannah,” she sighed and hurried off after Father. “I’ll try,” she called back over her shoulder.
I washed dishes for what seemed like hours. It was midnight when Mother returned.
“They’re in the stable,” she announced. “Baby’s born…a boy.” She picked up the mop. “Both mother and child are strong.” she said and began to clean the floor.
Smiling with satisfaction, she added, “You’ve done enough for today, Hannah. Go to bed.”
I slipped out the back door away from the heat and the stench. I needed some peace and fresh night air before sleeping. Above me, stars danced across the night sky. One in particular, much brighter than all the rest, shone down on our stable.
Into the silence came the baby’s cry, a strong healthy wail. Curious, I ran to the stable. As I stepped inside, I could feel the warmth of the animals, and hear the rustle of their quiet movements. In a circle of starlight I could see them. The man held the baby close to his heart, comforting him with a gentle lullaby. The woman rested on the straw covered with the yellow blanket from my parent’s bed.
He looked up and smiled as I stepped into the light. “Welcome,” he said, his voice soft and gentle. “Have you come to see our beautiful baby Jesus?”
“Oh yes,” I whispered.
“Please sit down,” the woman said. “My name is Mary, and this is Joseph.”
Her voice was so sweet. It reminded me of the tinkle of the temple bells.
“I’m Hannah, My father owns the inn,” I said proudly, as I settled down into the straw.
“Thank you for sharing your stable.” Joseph said. “You’re mother has been wonderful. My Mary needed her. We give thanks to God for her.”
Joseph brought the baby over to show me.
“Can I hold him,” I asked?
He placed baby Jesus in my arms. He was so small and vulnerable. He snuggled down close to my heart as if he belonged there. When I touched his tiny hand, his wee fingers opened up like a flower, and wrapped around my little finger. He held on, he actually held on. He opened his eyes and looked right into my soul. I felt enveloped within God’s love. I knew in my heart even then, that this was a very special baby. I wanted to hold him forever.
Mary’s voice rang out in the stillness, “An angel told us that our Jesus is the promised Messiah. He will be a Saviour, God with us.”
I believed Mary then. I believe her today. Now, Jesus is grown. He preaches with such wisdom and love. When he looked at me yesterday, I felt God’s presence stir within me.
He said, “All people are God’s beloved children; all people, not just the ones we find it easy to love.” He looked right at me and commanded, “Love all of God’s children, everyone you meet. Everyone. Hold them in your heart, for even your enemies are God’s creations.”
Of course, I agreed to do as he asked. Thirty years ago, I held him as a baby, and he entered my heart. He’s never left. I’m sure he has been with me ever since. I can do as he teaches.
I am so grateful that I followed the star to the stable that night when I was thirteen.
God came among us as a baby because God knows that holding a baby inspires us to love.