One cold winter morning, there were three ships sailing into Bethlehem. As the sun rose over the horizon, the sound of a baby crying came from one of the ships.
A young mother and her newborn child lay huddled in blankets on the side of the deck. A donkey comforted them with its presence, swaying his tail back and forth. Also, a man who appeared to be the father knelt in prayer beside the woman and child. The waves crashed against the boat, and the wind blew harder than expected for a clear morning.
On one of the other ships were wise, old men who had chests of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The men liked to watch the stars at night in their looking glasses, trying to receive messages from the gods. Although no one knew what they were looking for in the heavens, they had found wealth on Earth.
In another ship was a boat of thieves and murderers that were chained to the hull of the boat. The passengers on the other two ships were hoping to never meet the dangerous voyagers. Most of them were criminals, back-and-forth from one town to another on the prison ship.
When the three ships finally docked on the coast miles from Bethlehem, people were singing on the shore. Bells rang from a nearby church, where passersby said there were angels rejoicing the previous night. According to the angels, a Savior was born, even though there was nowhere for the mother to give birth. The enthusiasm of the angels was enough for the people to gather on what they called “Christmas morning.”
When the passengers got off the first ship, the young mother and her child looked tired and rugged. The father tried to lead the donkey by a cord while carrying two knapsacks on his own back.
As the second ship disembarked, the wise men ran to the mother and stuffed her husband’s bags with treasure. Thankful for the gifts from the astrologers, the father shook their hands with gratitude.
Then, of course, the Magi ran as fast as they could from the disembarking prisoner ship in fear.
When the mother saw the third ship emptying, she asked her husband to give the Magi’s treasure to the prisoners, thinking it might be enough to pay for their release on such a beautiful morning.
“It is Christmas morning,” she said quietly. “Until I give them my son, it is the best gift that I have for now.”
Copyright 2020 Jennifer Waters