In my collection of Little Golden Books is The Christmas Story, told by Jane Werner and illustrated by one of my favorite illustrators, Eloise Wilkin. To me, Miss Wilkin created the most beautiful pictures of children in any of the Little Golden Books and perhaps the best in any children’s book. The picture on the last page of The Christmas Story of a barefoot Jesus as a toddler standing on a grassy knoll holding a lamb is precious.
It is my impression that children’s books published many years ago tell much more of the story of Jesus’ birth than modern ones do. There is a wonderful opening in The Christmas Story where Mrs. Wilkin has drawn a nighttime scene of mamas, daddies, and children walking down a street in Bethlehem. A man stands at an open doorway in the background. A woman on a donkey is beside him. Visible in the doorway is a raised arm, obviously telling the man that no, there is no room here in this inn.
Miss Werner tells the readers that, when Joseph and Mary reached Bethlehem at last, many other travelers were already there. She notes that the streets were * “full of cheerful, jostling kinsmen.”
I have thought of the crowded streets of Bethlehem, filled with people who had to be there because Caesar Augustus had declared that they must go back to their ancestral homes to participate in a government census, but I am thankful for Miss Werner helping me see something I had not noticed before. I’m sure it was not Caesar Augustus’ purpose to give all those folks an opportunity for a family reunion, but he did. What a blessing it must have been for all those descendants of King David to be together in one place.
Of course, the main thing Caesar Augustus did was to tell Joseph to go to the place God had prophesied that the Messiah would be born.
If your mama’s heart is like many mama’s hearts, the news you hear from the world can be pretty distracting and discouraging and sometimes downright scary. During this Christmas week, let’s remember that the God Who used the powerful ruler of the Roman Empire to get Joseph and Mary at just the right family reunion at just the right time is still on the throne.
The king’s heart is like channels of water
in the hand of the Lord;
He turns it wherever He wishes.
* Werner, Jane. The Christmas Story. Racine, Wisconsin: Golden Press, Western Publishing Company, Inc., 1952, 1972, page 8.
* I also appreciate our minister for sharing Proverbs 21:1 in his sermon yesterday, along with the idea that God used Caesar Augustus to get Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem.