Long before doctors and hospitals, women gave birth at home. There has been a resurgence of interest in this, as society (specifically mothers) realizes that “home” provides comfort that a hospital room just can’t. The sterile, bland, cold, and noisy hospital room just sounds so cozy to welcome a new life into the world. Mothers will choose where they are most comfortable to give birth, whether it is at home or at a hospital or someplace else. It comes time for Jesus to be born, and neither is an option, so on to that someplace else…Bethlehem.
Perhaps Bethlehem wasn’t too bad for Mary. Nazareth was home for her (and ultimately they returned there). However, those were the same people who saw a pregnant woman and knew that her husband wasn’t the father. The birth of her son might have been an absolute circus. Instead, along with many other strangers, she was in Bethlehem. Instead of being “that” Mary, she was just another face in a crowd of people.
Micah’s seeming foretelling of where the Messiah would be born tell a tale. The first passage talks about Migdal Eder (or “the watchtower of the flock”), which is associated with Bethlehem. This place of sheep becomes very interesting as it is possible that was the place the shepherds were at when visited by the angels, and it would be near Bethlehem for a “quick” visit to the Messiah.
1) Have you ever had the experience of the family coming for the firstborn of the next generation? What was it like?
2) What if instead of a nice clean family it was the worst and the least that came to rejoice with you? What then?
3) Who do you think had the greater joy, the shepherds or the families of Mary and Joseph? Who would it be easier to celebrate with? Why?