Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Animals

Yes, the animals! They played a big part of the Nativity story. How many Nativity scenes have you seen without animals?

Begin today's study by reading Luke 2: 1-7.

I think most of you reading this study have been pregnant women at one time or another. Remember your ninth month? I do! (well it's only been two years for me so It's still fresh in my memory.) Swollen fingers, swollen ankles. Unable to bend. Unable to breathe. Having to use the girls room every 20 minutes. Remember when you felt that way? Now imagine climbing on a donkey and staying there for two weeks while 9 months pregnant.
     (The journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem is 93 miles. A US army travels around 20 miles a day. The Roman Army traveled around 14 miles a day. Here was a pregnant woman riding a donkey and a man walking. They probably traveled less than 10 miles a day.)
That would be one miserable trip.
Now, contrary to belief, Joseph would not have been poor. He wasn't rich. He was average. He did have money to stay in the inn for an extended time. (vs 6). This was not just an over night stay. But it was busy there; Kind of like going to Florida in the summer. Mary needed to get off her feet I am sure, so they ended up out back in the barn. I am pretty sure at this point, she didn't care where she ended up. (I would be saying, "Just get me off this donkey!")

Barns back then were basically caves. Dark and dreary.
What else is in a barn?

Plenty of manure for Mary to have a soft, sterile environment. 

Can you imagine the animals? They got shooed out of their barn and their bedding. I can just hear the foot stomping; the swish of a mane of a donkey because his routine was messed up. Probably even some kicking.  Yes, I am fairly sure it wasn't quiet in that barn.
So, Mary has her little baby with no doctors or nurses. Just her husband to help her. They were there several days, she had to have something to lay the baby in. 

That is a modern day feed trough. Can you imagine Joseph taking the trough outside, dumping it out and banging it against the ground to get most of the yuck out of it?
 And then...laying a newborn Baby in it?

The animals were just normal animals. 
They didn't prepare the way for the King by having a perfectly clean barn. 

I wonder why when we list all the smells of Christmastime, we don't include the smell of manure?


Belinda said...

Childbirth is so hard anyway, but to do it in that environment boggles my mind. The dirt, the noise of aggravated animals, the fear. But I've tried to imagine how they felt holding the Christ in their arms for the first time. Did they remember and realize at that point Who He was? Or did they just enjoy the moment, like we do at the birth of our children?

Hillbilly Tonya said...

Yes, us too. Especially since Stephen has been born. When you bring a new baby into the world at Christmas it makes you think about it so much more. We will be discussing the Christ Child later in the week. I am enjoying studying for this weeks posts.

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Carrie P. said...

I have thought about a pregnant Mary being on that donkey. Oh, how uncomfortable. I can only imagine what she went through but it probably didn't matter to her because of the special child she was carrying.

Snoodles said...

Great post, Tonya...really brings to life the things that get glossed over in our usual "bird's eye view" of the nativity. I simply can't imagine - but I am oh, so grateful!