By Jeff Gill
Dear friends and family back in Nazareth: season’s greetings!
Mary reminded me that we really shouldn’t get into a new year without sending you all a note to update developments in our little family.
Yes, we ran off and went ahead and got hitched. It’s a long story, and we look forward to explaining how this all came about when next we’re at home. You could say that the Roman announcement of a census forced our hand.
I had to go back south to my family homesteads near Bethlehem (as a scion of King David’s line and all that). It just, well, made so much sense for Mary to come along. It was sort of a last minute decision, so we apologize for leaving Galilee so quickly and not giving you all a chance to give us a rousing send-off. Stuff happened.
It would be nice to tell you that the family down here in Judea made up for the hospitality we missed out on from you, but in fact, between the hordes coming to town for the census and all the off-season travelers, we were almost left entirely out in the cold. Our lodgings are simple but adequate, even if they would never be approved by the Triple-A.
In fact, as if things couldn’t get more complicated, Mary had her baby here in Bethlehem. My carpenter’s guild insurance was no good down here at Ephratha General, and we were quite worried about that, but it became a moot point when the baby was born swiftly and smoothly and really without even a cry. Yes, it was what some call a home birth, and it wasn’t what we planned, but all turned out perfectly.
My family was of little help, but the kindnesses of strangers have warmed our hearts. A group of sheepherders from out on the edge of town came by our “room” and helped set everything to rights and made us feel like we were right where we were supposed to be.
Meanwhile, I’m working on picking up some contractor paying gigs (brought my tools, natch), and word on the street here is that there are some foreign dignitaries floating around the neighborhood, looking at various properties. If one of them wants a vacation home here in Bethlehem, I could make enough to get us back to Nazareth by Passover. I’ll be looking to make contact with them (there’s a bunch of them traveling together) as soon as I put these letters in the hands of a provincial courier, or pretty much anyone traveling north.
Hope to see you soon and tell you more in person – let’s just say God has been good to us, and we are thankful! May you be as blessed as we have been, but with better beds!
All our love,
Joseph, Mary, and our brand new bundle of joy, Jesus!