"It is cold tonight!" said the oldest shepherd. He pulled his ragged blanket about his shoulders. The youngest shepherd had been out gathering sticks and twigs and thorn bushes. "Shall I build a fire for us, Grandfather?" he asked. "See,…
Published February 04, 2008 by
Many years ago a young man came from another town to make his home in the village of Nazareth. The village was in a country called Galilee. The man's name was Joseph. Joseph was very helpful to the people of Galilee. He made wooden plow points with which they could plow their wheat fields. He carved wooden troughs which held water for the donkeys and the oxen. He made bowls for food and little barrels for milk and grape juice.
Joseph worked at a bench along the street. He watched the people as they walked by. Fishermen went past him on their way to the sea. Farmers walked by with their work animals. Children ran races and played games near his bench.
Many women and girls walked along the street, too. The town's well was at the end of the street and the women went there after water.
Joseph noticed one young girl more than the others. Her name was Mary. She was a very beautiful girl.
"But her kindness and her gentle ways make her even more beautiful," thought the carpenter.
Little goats and lambs came running as Mary walked along the street. Sometimes she patted their heads. Sometimes she gave one a bite of grass or a scrap of bread.
The birds were not afraid of Mary.
Doves flew about her head. Little singing birds chirped as she walked by.
The little children loved Mary, too. She was so pretty and kind and smiling. If a small boy stubbed his toe and fell down, she hurried to help him up.
If a little girl broke her doll, Mary took time to help mend the toy.
"What a lovely maiden!" thought Joseph. "She will be a good wife and mother!"
Mary had noticed the carpenter, too. "He has a kind face and gentle manners," she thought. "His work is careful.
He is good to old people and beggars."
One day Joseph came to see Mary's mother, who was a widow. He told her that he would like to marry her daughter.
Mary's mother was pleased.
"The young carpenter comes from a good and noble family," she told Mary. "He is a relative of the great King David who lived long ago."
Mary was happy. She was glad to know about the noble people in Joseph's family.
"But Joseph is noble, too," she said. "He is a kind, good man. I am glad he wishes to marry me!"
Before long there was a great wedding party in the town. Mary's mother and her relatives planned the party. It was the engagement party for Mary and Joseph. All of Mary's relatives came. There was a feast. Most of the relatives were pleased with Joseph.
Not long after this a strange thing happened to Joseph. While he was asleep, an angel came to him.
"I am the angel of the Lord," said the visitor. "You have done well to choose Mary for your wife."
"Mary is a dear and gentle maiden," answered the carpenter. "The Lord has been good to me."
The angel said, "A greater thing will happen. Mary's baby will be a son. He will grow into a holy king who will save the world. You will name him 'Jesus Emmanuel'."
"That name means 'God is with us,' " said the carpenter. The angel nodded his head. Then he disappeared.
Joseph awakened and sat up. "A heavenly visitor has been here!" he thought. He knelt and made a prayer of thanks.
He thought of stories which he had heard all his life, and which had come down through the years.
"Long ago the Lord promised King David a great thing. He promised that a lovely maiden should be given a gift of a baby boy. The maiden would be married to a man in David's own family. And the baby would become the Savior of the world."
Again Joseph bowed his head and made a prayer of thanks.
"I am only a poor carpenter," he said to himself. "Mary is just a poor girl. Can it be that the Lord has chosen us to keep his wonderful promise?"
The baby gift that they spoke of would soon be a story told for generations to come.