Pastor's wife: 'Who wants to give birth in a crowded hotel with everyone watching?' 


A middle schooler recently told his mother he didn’t like Sunday School because he knew all the Bible stories already.  I got a little bit tickled but beg to differ with that young man.  Even though I am 62, every single time I open God’s Word He speaks to me.

Unfortunately, I’ve been there as a young adult when I thought I knew a thing or two already, even groaning silently one Christmas when a preacher told us to turn to Luke 2 — again.  What a goof I was, thinking I had such knowledge.  I’m shaking my head as I type.

I LOVE the Christmas story and want to soak it all up like a sponge.  Just this morning, as I read parts of the very familiar Christmas story, the words leapt off the page anew. I realized many things Mary and Joseph experienced parallel couples in ministry today.  I’m impressed by their partnership.  Together, they were strong.  A team.

Mary was an unlikely choice.  (Been there, felt that.)  So ordinary, poor, young, and female.  Not at all expected to change the world.  God knew what was in her heart and all she was capable of.  She was from Nazareth, a small place like Jerry Bottom, where I’m from.

We learn from the Christmas story when God speaks it can be in unexpected ways.  And it can be terrifying.

He speaks personally.  Often when we’re alone.  Mary was all by herself that day.  There were no witnesses.  The prophecies said the baby would be born in Bethlehem; they were nowhere near Bethlehem.  Lots for the family to wrap their minds around.  Because they are never mentioned, I wonder if they were supportive.  When surrendering to ministry, loved ones may be perplexed way before they understand.

Mary and Joseph’s calling connected them.  They were both surrendered, moving at the speed of God, though unsure of what that would fully mean.  The same is true for a couple serving in ministry together — perhaps a pastor and his wife.  In the beginning, there was fear and disbelief.  How could this be?  Questions abound today as well. 

In ministry, one spouse tells the other, “This is how/what/where I feel like God is leading.” There is shock and awe, just as Joseph experienced.  Then God speaks confirmation. Joy quickly follows.

Rarely do you surrender to God and stay where you are.  When we follow Him, the adventure begins.  Mary and Joseph took their faith on the road to an unknown city.  God used the hard thing of taxation to get them to the right place.  It wasn’t a B & B, but they found shelter in a borrowed stable.  God provides.  Oh, how He provides.  The stable was more private.  Who wants to give birth in a crowded hotel with everyone watching?  It wouldn’t have been their first choice; God’s plan was better.  He had His reasons. Company was coming. 

Mary and Joseph had their first Christmas open house as a couple.  There were no snacks or punch, no festive decorations.  The shepherds came and confirmed that the new parents were exactly where they were supposed to be.  In ministry and in life — when everything seems to be falling apart — it can actually just be falling in to place.

Just like God had a plan for Mary and Joseph, He has a plan for each of us.  We, too, are called to carry Jesus and share Him with the world.  Are we serving Him?  Or only ourselves?  If we stepped out of our comfort zone and surrendered to God and His will, where would He lead us and use us?    

Read the story.  Every day ‘til Christmas.  Together, we can learn from Team Mary and Joseph.

Dawn Reed is a pastor's wife and newspaper columnist. Reach her at