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© 2017 JULIE FITZ-GERALD

Uxbridge, ON | E-mail: jfitz-gerald@sympatico.ca 

  • Julie Fitz-Gerald

A SON IS BORN: A MODERN TALE OF THE CHRISTMAS STORY

Mary dribbled the basketball down the court, easily pivoting around Josh before heading into a lay-up and scoring another two points to end the game. “Good game guys. Better luck next time,” she grinned as she headed into the girls’ change room.


Mary loved sports and even better, she loved to prove her skills on the court. She quickly changed out of her gym clothes, ran her fingers through her hair and flashed a satisfied smile in the mirror. Grabbing her bag, she hurried out of the gym and into the parking lot where her fiancé, Joseph, was waiting. He beeped the horn of his rusty, silver Jeep and waved to get her attention.


Mary climbed into the passenger’s seat and gave him a quick hug. “Thanks for picking me up,” she said.


“Did you show them any mercy?” Joseph asked with a smile.


“What do you think?” Mary laughed. “Of course not!”


Joseph made the ten minute drive from the gym to Mary’s house. “Thanks for the ride, Joseph. Can you stay for dinner?” she asked.


He reluctantly shook his head. “Sorry Mary, I can’t tonight. I’m working the late shift at Tim Horton’s. I’ll see you tomorrow though.”


“Okay, thanks for the ride,” she said. Mary waved goodbye from the porch as Joseph reversed down the driveway and disappeared down the road.


Later that night, as Mary was getting ready for bed, a rush of air blew into her room and it grew so bright that she squinted and had to shield her eyes with her hands to see. There in the doorway stood Gabriel, an angel, sent from Heaven above. Mary trembled and struggled to catch her breath. “Mary,” the angel said, “you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a Son, and call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Highest. The Lord God will give Him the throne of his father David and He will rule Jacob’s house forever – with no end, ever, to his Kingdom.”

Mary’s eyes widened and in a quivering voice she responded, “How can this be? I have no husband.”


Gabriel reassured her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will hover over you; therefore the child you bring to birth will be called Holy, Son of God. And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren and here she is six months pregnant! Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.”

Mary nodded her understanding to Gabriel and said, “Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me, just as you say.”


With that, the room dimmed and fell silent. Gabriel was gone. Mary’s long, brown hair fell over her face as she cradled her head in her hands. Tears tumbled down her cheeks, making droplets on her purple duvet. How was she going to explain this to Joseph? She cringed at the thought of the gossip that would spread through town as her belly grew. Would Joseph even stay with her? Would he believe her when she told him about Gabriel? And what about her schooling? Mary had just been accepted by the University of Toronto for sports psychology.  “I need to get to Elizabeth,” she said.


Dumping out the contents of her gym bag on the bed, Mary packed some fresh clothes, a tooth brush, her cell phone and a small amount of cash.  The adventure of her life was about to begin. She walked briskly to the bus station and purchased a ticket to Toronto, where Elizabeth lived with her husband, Zachariah. The bus was empty except for the driver and one other passenger. Mary was relieved she didn’t know him. As the bus bumped along, the scenery out the window turned from farm fields to high rises. Pulling into Union Station, Mary exited the bus and hailed a cab. Half an hour later she was knocking on Elizabeth’s door.

Zachariah answered, and after giving her a heartfelt hug, led her to Elizabeth in the back room before disappearing into the kitchen to make a pot of tea.


Elizabeth sat in a recliner, her pregnant belly clearly visible under her sweater. “Mary!” she exclaimed, “The instant I heard your voice at the front door, my baby leapt for joy in my belly. Blessed above all other women are you! And blessed is the Fruit of your womb!”

The two embraced and tears of joy ran down both their faces. “You can stay with us until the time comes to return to Joseph,” Elizabeth said gently. Mary nodded, drying her face with the cuffs of her sleeves. “I would love that, thank you,” she replied.


That night Mary texted her parents and Joseph to tell them she would be spending the next few months in Toronto, taking care of Elizabeth. Although surprised, they understood and wished her the best.


For several months, Mary and Elizabeth enjoyed time together as both of their bellies grew with the promise of change. As Elizabeth prepared for the imminent birth of her baby, Mary decided it was time to return to Joseph. She texted him to let him know when she’d be home and bought a bus ticket. As she boarded the bus, her stomach whirled with apprehension and she reached for the handrail to steady herself. Taking a deep breath, she handed the driver her ticket and sat down near the front. Looking out her window as the high rises turned into corn fields, Mary anxiously wrung her hands.


The bus wound its way into town and pulled over in front of the main bus stop. Mary slowly stepped out onto the curb. She heard a familiar “beep, beep” and saw Joseph standing beside his old Jeep up ahead. As Mary made her way toward him, his smile slowly disappeared and his waving hand dropped to his side. Her pregnant belly trumpeted her secret as she closed the gap between them. Joseph, confused and perplexed, dropped the flowers he was holding. Kicking them across the sidewalk, he angrily climbed into his car and rammed the gear shift into drive. “Joseph, wait!” Mary begged, hurrying to reach him. “I can explain.”


But before she could finish, he stuffed his foot into the accelerator and sped off, leaving Mary standing in a cloud of exhaust. Hot tears stung her face as she watched the Jeep’s taillights disappear.


That night, Joseph sat in his living room, blankly staring out the window. Question after question ran through his mind. Whose baby was Mary carrying? How could she do this to him when they were engaged to be married? The creases in his forehead deepened as he mulled over the scene at the bus stop. “I can’t marry her now,” he thought. “I’ll have to break off the engagement quietly and we can go our separate ways.” His heart ached as he contemplated a future without the girl he loved. But he had made up his mind. He climbed the stairs to his bedroom, slid into bed and pulled the comforter over his face, trying to forget the world.


As Joseph slept, an angel sent by God appeared in his dream. “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus – ‘God saves’ – because he will save his people from their sins,” the angel said.

Joseph’s eyes blinked open and he bolted out of bed. Dropping to his knees, he clasped his hands tightly, bowed his head and lifted up prayers of thanksgiving to God for the tremendous blessing that was being sent to the world through Mary.


Joseph quickly dressed and checking his phone, realized it was 1:30 in the morning. “I have to see her,” he thought. He ran downstairs and out the front door, slamming it behind him. His Jeep was the only vehicle on the road as he sped through the dark streets to Mary’s house. He parked in front of her home and ran up the front steps, pounding on the door. “Mary! Mary! I need to talk to you. I know everything now,” Joseph shouted excitedly.

The porch light turned on and Mary opened the door, a look of disbelief on her face. “Mary,” Joseph said, holding her hands in his and staring into her deep brown eyes. “An angel came to me tonight. I know what God’s plans are for you, for the baby, for us. You are carrying His Son, the Saviour of the world. Mary, we will do this together.”


Tears of joy flowed and the two embraced and rejoiced in the glory of what was to come. They made plans to be married immediately.


The final months of Mary’s pregnancy went quickly. As her due date approached, the new Prime Minister of Canada ordered all residents to make their way to the nearest city for country-wide fingerprinting to better ensure the nation’s security. Joseph gassed up his old Jeep and the pair set out for Toronto. As they drove the worn-out engine began to sputter. The Jeep lurched forward one last time before it lost power altogether and came to rest at the side of the road. Just then, Mary shouted out in pain and clutched her swollen belly. “Joseph, I think the baby is coming!” she yelled.


Joseph frantically reached for his phone to call for help. The batteries were dead. “Where’s your phone Mary? We need to call for an ambulance.”


“I don’t know,” Mary said, her voice rising with the pain of another contraction. “This baby is coming now!”


Joseph ran around the car to the passenger’s side and reclined Mary’s seat. “We can do this, Mary. It’s okay. Everything will be fine,” Joseph said, reassuring her.


Spreading out their coats and packed clothing, Joseph comforted Mary and encouraged her as she laboured. The baby’s head crowned and Mary gave one last push and delivered Him into Joseph’s waiting arms. The newborn’s cries filled the air and Joseph wrapped him up in his fleece sweater. Finally, another car came down the road and seeing the commotion, pulled over to help. “Call an ambulance,” Joseph shouted. “We just had a baby!” Then he leaned down and kissing Mary’s forehead whispered, “The Prince of Peace is born.”


While the new family awaited the ambulance, a few kilometres away a family of dairy farmers were carrying out their evening chores. As they fed and watered their cows, a warm light suddenly filled the dimly lit barn and danced around its dusty corners. An angel appeared and said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people. For to you is born this day a Saviour, Who is Christ the Lord! And this will be a sign for you: you will find him arriving at a hospital after having been born at the side of the road.”


Then an army of the troops of Heaven appeared all around the angel, filling the barn and astounding the farmers. The army of angels praised God, saying, “Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is well pleased,” and then they returned to their Heavenly realm as quickly as they had appeared.


The farmers stared at one another in awe. Joel, the father, cleared his throat and spoke. “We must go to the hospital and see the world’s Savior with our own eyes,” he said. The family nodded in agreement and filed into their farm truck to drive to the hospital.


Joel pulled under the emergency bays at the front entrance and parked behind an ambulance that was preparing to unload. The family piled out of the truck just as the paramedic radioed to doctors waiting inside: “Bus 212 is on site with newborn baby boy and mother. Baby was born at the side of the road. Both patients’ vitals are strong. Please advise what wing we should take them to.”


Joel looked towards his family and their eyes met with excitement. It was as the angel said. They followed the gurney inside and down the hall to the maternity ward. When Mary was settled into her hospital room with her swaddled baby in her arms, Joel entered and introduced himself. He described the fleet of angels who had told them of Jesus’ birth at the roadside only an hour earlier. The nurses in the room gazed at the baby in amazement and peace settled into the hearts of everyone who was present.


As the months passed by, Jesus grew into an energetic toddler with a wonder for the world. One night as Mary was laying him in his crib, the doorbell rang. Joseph answered the door and saw three women in flowing dresses patterned with bright flowers standing on the front porch. They were illuminated by the light of a Heavenly star overhead and held gifts of gold, incense and perfume in their hands. Joseph listened intently to their recounting of the shining star that led them to his home. As they talked, Mary came downstairs with Jesus wriggling in her arms, trying to get free so he could greet the visitors. The three wise women fell to their knees at the sight of the young Prince and worshiped Him.


Emmanuel, Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace was born.  Word spread quickly throughout Canada and the world as Christians rejoiced and praised God for the holiest gift ever given to man.