It was getting to be dark when they arrived.
Fortunately there was enough light to guide them into the city and begin their search for a room.
It had a been a long journey and while thankful for the donkey Mary was ready to get off and walk around.
"Sorry, we're full"
"No room here"
Door after door and no room for them.
Finally a nice old man and his wife lead Mary and Joseph to the back of their home and showed them their stable. It was all they had and the young couple was thankful to have a place to stay.
The animals were already bedded down for the night as darkness had overtaken the town. Mary thanked the couple as she made her and Joseph's beds. They talked about the journey and got a kick out of the fact that they were sleeping in their own private "suite" with a beautiful view of the night sky through the stable window.
The sky was extra clear that night, each star seemed to jump out of it and twinkled it's way down to earth.
Mary woke up sometime after midnight.
Joseph heard her stir and knew something wasn't quite right.
She had a quick labor and even quicker delivery.
It was a boy! Just as the angel had said.
They named him Jesus and wrapped him in swaddling clothes. Mary held her baby close, smelling him, touching his little features and unwrapping him often to peak at his toes and knees, fingers and hands.
Silence filled the stable as the animals turned in their beds opening an eye to glance at the wonderful event that had just occurred. A baby sheep made his way to sniff at the new baby boy in the stable and mama sheep bleated a sound of joy!
Just as Mary lay her precious baby in the hay-layered manger the woman of the house led a handful of young ragamuffin shepherds to the stable.
Words were few, tears were many and a sense of a victorious life and a changed world filled the air.
The young shepherds, overflowing with excitement, scurried off singing, dancing and clapping the whole way back to their watch in the fields. The inn-keepers wife slipped back into her bed, the animals settled back down and Mary sat quietly reflecting on all that had happened. Joseph nodded off to sleep and a smile appeared on Mary's face. Her heart was warm with love with peace and that new sense of expectancy, joy and surrealness that comes to a mother when she stares at her baby those first hours.
Finally after feeding her little one Mary slips off to sleep.
All was quiet and calm when daybreak came.
All were sleeping, except this little baby.
This precious little one lay in that manager taking in the sights, sounds and smells of this world and He instantly fell in love.
As the world slept He was loving it already.
A love that remains today.
A love we can all experience.
That is how I imagine the first Christmas Eve to have been.
May your Christmas Eve and Christmas Day be filled with love, joy, peace and a renewed sense of what our Saviour was sent for.