Now Caesar Augustus decreed a census of the entire Roman world, which apparently was only the province of Judea. 2 Quirinius was governor of Syria at the time, and Herod the Great was still king, despite having been dead for 10 years. 3 Unlike any other Roman census in history, everyone had to return to their hometown to register. This caused mass chaos, but it was a convenient way of fulfilling a vague prophecy in Micah 5:2, about an Israelite leader coming from the tribe of Bethlehem Ephrathah.
4 Joseph was originally from Bethlehem, but he was living in Nazareth in Galilee, 5 so he had to take his heavily pregnant fiancée Mary on an 80-mile journey to Bethlehem.
‘You want me to what?’ screamed Mary.
‘Look,’ replied Joseph, ‘I come from Bethlehem, and I have to go and do this stupid census.’
‘But why the heck do I have to come? I don’t even come from Bethlehem.’
‘Because you’re my wife!’ argued Joseph.
‘No, we’re still just engaged!’ spat Mary.
‘But I bought you!’
‘Technically, I should still be staying with my father, whoever that is… How come you get two dads - Jacob and Heli - and I don’t even get one?’
Joseph looked around anxiously, and then whispered, ‘We’re not supposed to talk about that. Please just call him Hannah.’
Just then, Heli walked into the room. ‘Hey kids,’ he chirped.
‘Hi, Hannah,’ replied Mary awkwardly. ‘That’s a lovely dress you’re wearing. It goes well with your… beard.’
6 A couple of weeks later, when they’d arrived in Bethlehem, they couldn’t find anywhere to stay due to all the people flocking there. That evening, they arrived at the last inn in town and knocked on the door.
A man answered the door, ‘Hi, welcome to the Wolf & Lamb Inn.’
‘Do you have any rooms free?’ asked Joseph.
‘Oh, I’m sorry, sir. We’re fully booked.’
‘Shit!’ declared Joseph.
Unexpectedly, Mary’s water broke all over the pavement. Joseph fainted.
‘Bloody hell!’ screamed the inn keeper. Then he called into the inn, ‘Manuel! Fetch the mop!’
7 He helped Mary into his stable and laid her on a pile of hay. So, she gave birth to her baby there and she swaddled him thoroughly.
8 Meanwhile, in a field outside of town, some shepherds were watching their flocks by night. One, named Perez, was stoking the fire, and he turned to his companion Gideon and said, ‘How many sheep do you have?’
‘That’s a random question,’ replied Gideon.
‘I know, but there’s not all that much to talk about.’
‘Oh, well, I’ve never really counted. There have to be around fifty.’
‘Why haven’t you counted them?’ cried Perez. ‘How would you know if one went missing?’
‘Well, I did try a few times, but each time I ended up falling asleep.’
‘Yeah, it’s a well-known fact that it’s impossible to count sheep without falling asleep.’
‘Bollocks!’ exclaimed Perez.
‘No, seriously!’ protested Gideon. ‘Just ask Ruben.’
‘Oi, Rube!’ called Perez to the shepherd who was sleeping close by.
The man rolled over and grunted, ‘What?’
‘Gideon says that counting sheep will send you to sleep.’
‘Yeah, it’s true,’ yawned Ruben.
‘But that’s just stupid!’ snorted Perez.
9 Suddenly, there was a tremendous burst of light, and an angel of the Lord appeared in front of them.
‘Holy shit!’ yelled the shepherds.
10 ‘Do not be afraid,’ said the angel.
‘Why the hell are you appearing in flashes of light if you don’t want to scare people?’ demanded Perez.
11 ‘I bring you tidings of great joy,’ replied the angel. ‘The Messiah has been born in Bethlehem.’
12 ‘Yup, that’s the one,’ nodded the angel. ‘You’ll find him in a manger.’
Gideon looked in a nearby feeding trough.
13 Just then, a great multitude of angels appeared overhead, singing:
‘Jingle bells, jingle bells.
Jingle all the way.
Oh, what fun it is to ride
Into Bethlehem to see the newborn Jesus today!’
15 When the angels had returned to Heaven, Perez said to the others, ‘Well, that was fucked up.’
Gideon cheered, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem to see the baby!’
‘Why?’ asked Perez.
‘Well, he is the messiah.’
‘Oh, okay. I suppose there’s nothing else to do around here.’
16 So, they went into Bethlehem to see the baby, and the found him lying in the feeding trough while Mary was lying exhausted on the hay. By this point, Joseph had come around, and was standing over Mary fanning her.
‘Who the hell are you?’ complained Joseph.
‘Oh, we’re shepherds,’ said Perez.
‘What are you doing here? My wife’s just given birth!’
‘We came to see the baby,’ declared Gideon.
‘I don’t care!’ spat Joseph. ‘She needs rest!’
‘Can we at least take a look?’ enquired Gideon.
‘No! Sod off!’
And the shepherd’s left grumbling, ‘We come to see the messiah, and all we get is bloody abuse.’
Some people overheard them and asked, ‘What’s this about the messiah?’
17 ‘Yeah, he was born in that stable,’ replied Perez, gesturing towards it. ‘And the father was very rude!’
‘Who was born in a stable?’ asked another passer-by.
18 ‘The messiah!’ barked Perez.
‘Where?’ asked yet another.
19 ‘Over there!’ yelled Perez. ‘The messiah was born in that stable over there!’
20 So, rumours began to spread all over town about the birth of the messiah, and the shepherds returned to watching their sheep.
21 When they child was eight days old, he was circumcised and named Jesus, just as Gabriel had told them to.