So far in our Advent story, we’ve been traveling back and forth from Nazareth to Bethlehem, so it’s only fair that we give the donkey a nod.
Donkeys, a common mode of transportation in Biblical times, are hard working and trainable. They can handle rough terrain and heavy loads. Sounds like a perfect ride for 90 miles, a pregnant wife, and a tight schedule.
Donkeys have been carrying burdens long before that trip to Bethlehem. One donkey joined Abraham and Isaac on their heartbreaking hike toward an impossible sacrifice.
And a donkey walked with Moses on his nervous trip to Egypt for convincing Pharaoh to let God’s people go.
Now that I’ve got our nativity stable in place, and I’m reaching back into the box for Mary, or Joseph, or the tiny manger crib, I can hear the memory of my children asking, “But what about the animals?”
During the annual retelling of the “no room in the inn”, my kids would often interrupt to ask about the fate of the animals who may have given up their home on that first Christmas night. I usually responded with a variety of fast-talking half-answers:
Oh, we’re not sure it was actually a stable, it could have been another type of small shelter, so maybe there were no animals around. Now listen up to hear what happened next…
Maybe the owner’s stable was brand new and he didn’t have any animals yet. Anyway…
Well, if there were animals, I’m sure they were happy to make room for Jesus. Let’s turn the page...
Our nativity set does include a few animals, but I rarely unpack them. Our table is small and my time is precious, so let’s get to the point, right? And honestly, who wants animals cluttering Christmas, anyway?