Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.” They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.” Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him. Luke 1:57-66
Dear Aunt Elizabeth,
Well, we have arrived in Bethlehem. It is so noisy and dirty! People everywhere buying and selling, shouting to each other and stirring up the dust! Joseph and I went from house to house of relatives and friends, but no one had space for us. They thought we were coming next week and had given their rooms to other friends coming for the registration. What a mess! We then knocked on doors of inns ( although our money will run out if we have to pay for every night!) but most were overbooked and outrageously expensive. Overpriced for hovels! I am sitting under a grove of trees in someone's garden while Joseph negotiates with the most recent innkeeper and his wife. These folks seem to know Joseph's people and are willing to try to work something out. They took pity on us because of my condition but I don't know yet what we will do! I would be willing to lie down in a rough bed of straw I am so tired and aching. I know Joseph will work something out, although this seems like a disastrous beginning for the child of God. I feel like we've failed him already.
I must have fallen asleep while writing you - my sweet husband has returned with good news and had to wake me. There is an outbuilding on the far end of their garden that will be private and decent shelter. We can stay as long as we need to, the owners said. We have moved our meager belongings into a rough large gardening shed and sometimes stable. But there are a few lofts here for sleeping and a table where we can eat, as well as some lanterns. The inn keeper's wife is very kind and brought us some warm soup for our supper. When she saw me she looked very distressed and is sending for a wide woman to look me over. Auntie, I feel so out of control and as if there is nothing good I can do. I am aching and tired and nervous all at the same time. I thought carrying and giving life was wonderful but right now it seems so hard and burdensome. I don't think I will make it back home before this child come. My body is already beginning to cramp! Please pray for me. Honestly I am so scared I can hardly pray.
Sending love and aching to be held in your arms,