( for a little light-hearted story-telling fun)
‘T was the night before census and all through my inn
there were merchants and pilgrims – what a crowd, what a din!
The soldiers of Rome were all playing at dice.
They drink my wine freely, but complain of the mice.
The tribune claims Herod their room rent will pay,
but I sent my young children to a cousin away.
If King Herod has gotten a bee in his crown –
then there’s trouble that’s heading for Bethlehem town.
But Sarah my oldest helps Hannah with food.
She’s fast and she’s pretty, never flustered or rude.
When a guest is too friendly, it’s an elbow he’ll feel
hot kabob in his lap, on his sandal a heel.
She came in from the chickens and mentioned a sky
strangely lit by a star as bright as God’s eye.
A sky full of portents, a mysterious glow –
though not superstitious, I prayed quick even so.
Just then we all heard one more knock on the door,
but my beds are long taken, and each space on the floor.
What do they expect … I have magical powers?
Even the roof has been full for three hours.
And this couple was poor, you could see by their clothes,
young, too, and exhausted, so that’s how it goes.
But my Hannah and Sarah both gave me the “glance”
means they know I bark loudly, then give folks a chance.
These two were just kids with a kid on the way,
and I thought of the stable and the warmth of the hay.
Hannah pulls me aside with her woman’s insight.
She says, “Jacob, that baby will be born tonight.”
“Then the stable won’t do!!” “No, it’s perfect,” says Sarah.
“It’s private and quiet, and no soldiers to stare her.”
“But the cow and her calf, three dogs and two cats,
two Roman horses, all the doves and … the bats!”
“They’ll be fine, they’ll be safe — grab the rake, here’s the broom.
Now, Abba, go out there and tell them there’s room.”
They cleaned it up fast and it isn’t a fable
that a baby was born that cold night in my stable!
Next came the shepherds and they ate my wife’s stew —
Leader paid me in wool like a faithful good Jew.
What a story they told about angels and light,
although nothing surprises me after that night.
Except … maybe the caravan out of the east,
with their carpets and servants, demanding a feast.
They got Hannah’s pita and lamb on a stick –
the same as the shepherds and they ate just as quick,
Then they went to their camels a few gifts to unpack
and I gasped when I saw what came out of their sack.
Their journey was long and I asked them to stay,
but they left in the morning by a roundabout way.
They were worried that Herod would track them this far
and said something confused about chasing a star.
I remember that myrrh and the gold and perfume,
I remember I found that small baby a room.
I remember that shepherds and magi eat stew,
that the donkeys move over and the war horses too.
So when you share peace like those angels proclaim –
please remember one innkeeper, Jacob, by name.