For those of you who don't know, starting last month I am now working with the Young Women in my church which I love, love, love!!! We have activities every Wednesday night. Some fun, some spiritual, some learning, some a little bit of everything. Tonight we decided to take the girls caroling, since it is getting close to Christmas. I absolutely love caroling and wish people did it more often. (It's kind of a lost form.)
We thought we would start out caroling to the bishop and his counselor's (since they were there having a meeting at the church). We knocked on the door and started to sing when the bishop hushed us and told us they were in the middle of an important meeting. Oops, didn't think that one through!
We headed off to the first neighborhood. We went to the Porter's house (bishop's wife and daughters were home). We got there just as they were getting in the car to leave. We asked if we could sing them one song before they left. Kim apologized but said they were already late and had to run. Strike two!
We headed down a couple houses to the Trapp's. Aubrey's nickname for Brother Trapp is "nice guy" so surely we won't be rejected yet again. Bro. Trapp answered the door with a smile and just as we began to sing, he explained they were right in the middle of a discussion with the missionaries. Surely our carol could add to the discussion, but I guess not because next thing we knew, the door was shut in our faces. We're trying not to make it mean anything at this point. We decide to try a new part of the neighbor, so we hop in the cars and are on our way.
We stop at the Korth's house, knowing that if home, Sister Korth will surely appreciate us. (She is in the Stake Young Women's Presidency, so it's kind of her job, right?!?) We ring the doorbell and start singing (if we start singing, then maybe we can get the whole song out this time!) Sis. Korth is surprised to see us but quickly starts apologizing profusely explaining that she is in the middle of a presidency meeting and they are pressed for time. Wait aren't WE part of the reason she's having the meeting ... can't she make time for us???
We the head down to the Scott's house. We heard that Sis. Scott is sick and think that perhaps we can cheer her up. We see her daughter through the window. We begin singing. We see Sister Scott come up from the basement (the front door is all glass), walk past us and then turn out the lights. Apparently she doesn't want to spread germs.
We leaders decide to huddle and make a plan. Things are not working according to "the plan" and we don't want the girls to get discouraged. Obviously our ward is full of scrooges or something!!! I think of a friend of mine who lives close by, she's due any day now. I know that she is home and would never turn us away. So we head over to Angie Gray's house. Not only did Angie listen, but all the kids were there too. We actually got through the whole song! When we finished I thanked Angie for letting us sing to them and explained we had been turned away 5 times and we freezing! She told us if we were cold, we were welcome to go to the barn to get warm (did you know Angie has horses?)
As we head to the barn, we hear a very mellow version of "Silent Night playing" and see some bales of hay set up in a u-shape. We sat down and listed to a story from Shannon. I don't have the story she read, but here is some of the points:
“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed” (Luke 2:1).
This was really a registration of the citizenry of the empire of Rome. Herod made a decision that people should be counted in the land of their ancestors. Mary and Joseph, then living in Nazareth, had to travel southward to the city of David, a distance of approximately 70 miles (113 km). Perhaps they traveled even farther if they went around the hostile intermediate province of Samaria.
Almost certainly they traveled with relatives who likewise were summoned to the land of their ancestry. This difficult trek was no doubt made with their animals, such as dogs and donkeys. They likely camped out several nights, as three to four days would have been required for that journey.
“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn”
Elder Russell M. Nelson
Iimagine being full term and having to travel over 70 miles on a donkey.
I wonder if Luke did not have some special meaning when he wrote not “there was no room in the inn” but specifically that “there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7; emphasis added). We cannot be certain, but it is my guess that money could buy influence in those days as well as in our own. I think if Joseph and Mary had been people of importance or wealth, they would have found lodging even at that busy time of year.
I have wondered if the Joseph Smith Translation also was suggesting they did not know any influential people when it says there was no one to give them room in the inns (see JST, Luke 2:7).
Russell M. Nelson
If you didn't already guess, we set things up. We arranged to be turned away 5 times for seemingly different reasons. Our ward is NOT full of scrooges, it was actually very hard for them to turn us away and they didn't want to do it at first! We often just read over "no room at the inn" and got on to the rest of the story. Tonight we had a little taste of what it is like to be rejected over and over. I can't imagine the worry that Joseph had for his wife, knowing she needed a warm, safe place to stay. Most men I know, want to provide for the women in their lives and I sure that Joseph was no exception. Mary already knew her role as a mother was going to be an especially important one. She surely wanted a place to deliver her son in peace. Not only were they turned away because some of the inns were full, but also because they were poor and would not be able to pay the price. Finally they found someone who would listen and allowed them to stay in a stable with the animals.
I wonder what emotions Joseph might have had as he cleared away the dung and debris. I wonder if he felt the sting of tears as he hurriedly tried to find the cleanest straw and hold the animals back. I wonder if he wondered: “Could there be a more unhealthy, a more disease-ridden, a more despicable circumstance in which a child could be born? Is this a place fit for a king? Should the mother of the Son of God be asked to enter the “valley of the shadow of death” (Ps. 23:4) in such a foul and unfamiliar place as this? Is it wrong to wish her some comfort? Is it right He should be born here?”
But I am certain Joseph did not mutter and Mary did not wail. They knew a great deal and did the best they could.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
That's another thing that it is easy to overlook. The filth and smell that was surely present in the stable. Tonight we were lucky to be in a clean barn that was set up for us to rest comfortably. But Mary and Joseph were thankfull for the space they had as they brought the Savior into the world.
I am grateful for this activity, because even though I knew what was going on, it was so touching and quite a learning experience for me. It is always so easy to get caught up in the commercialism of the holidays. Experiences like this that help me to feel the true spirit of the season.