She Could Have Stayed in Bethlehem Parts One and Two

Note: Due to some technical problems we had with originally posting this story, we are reposting both parts one and two here together

(Though the eyes of a child)

I was having dinner with my two adopted granddaughters. One is 5 and the other is 3. We were all sitting on the floor around a low table eating pizza and some sliced fruit. They call me Besta as that is the Norwegian word for a grandparent.

This day we had planned a sleep over so there was a lot of interest in who would be sleeping where. The upstairs bedroom has been occupied for a few months by a lady who needed a place to live. The arrangements had really not been planned but this lady, whose name is Mary, was suddenly without a home and now I have watched as what started out as a temporary solution seems to be settling in to something more permanent.

Here is the dinner conversation:

“Besta, Why is Mary living with you?”

“I really don’t know”

“Is it because she doesn’t have a home?”


Then this from the 3 year old, “She could have stayed in Bethlehem with baby Jesus.”

I was silent. Captivated by how the nativity story and the Mary in our home were inseparable in the mind of this 3 year old. Amused that maybe there was another alternative.

My next post will talk about this idea through aging eyes.

(This idea through aging eyes)

As I woke up this morning I thought of my precious 3-year-old granddaughter struggling with the idea that Mary, a lady she had just learned was living in our house, was not in Bethlehem taking care of baby Jesus.

As my imagination engaged, I wondered if the thought of staying in Bethlehem ever crossed Mary’s mind. I explore this with care, as I am not addressing the mystery of God’s intervention in Mary’s life and her response, which provides rich teaching on obedience and trust.  I only want to think of what it might have felt like, emotionally, to walk in Mary’s shoes.

When she said yes to the Angel, did she know that she was agreeing to a lifetime that would bring both unspeakable joy and heartbreaking pain?

Did she know that keeping the religious rules would not exempt her from suffering?

Did she know that she would experience the terror of losing her 12-year-old son on a journey?

Did she know that her son would be rejected in their own hometown?

Did she know that He would give priority to a larger spiritual family over their nuclear family?

Did she know that his sanity would be questioned?

When Jesus asked His Father why He had forsaken Him, did she feel forsaken, too?

When she met with the believers in fervent prayer waiting for the Holy Spirit did she wonder if she should have just stayed in Bethlehem?

Let’s not stay in our Bethlehem. Let’s walk on. Mary would say, “Yes.”

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