Newsletter: December 1999

Compleat Mother - Decmber 99

Sincerest  thanks to Neil Sorrells for this incredible contribution. I’ll
never think of the Birth of Jesus in the same way again...

Divine Beginning,
          A love story

by Christian Childbirth Educator
Neil Sorrells
Alexander, North Dakota


        While scripture doesn't give us a detailed description we know the
birth of Jesus was unique, safe, and joyful afterwards, even if we don't
think about the birth itself. In our 'modern' world we 'need the same joy'
after our  child's safe unique birth. The good news is, help is available
here and now.

        In this story I explore the childbirth experience of Joseph, Mary,
and Jesus to help us understand what we are sometimes missing today.


        By researching the scholarly books, written by Christian
historians and archaeologist, we can get a idea of Israeli society around
the time of Jesus Christ's birth, but the understanding (that comes with
feeling what their life was like) will take the empathic work of our

        We will start our story with a brief glimpse at their society and
then narrow our focus down until we can take a leap of faith and explore
Jesus birth through the experiences of Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus and
some others. Everything is scriptural that is scriptural, and I only fill
in missing parts. Although some of this story can't be confirmed with
scripture it does ring true with what we know. It doesn't contradict
scripture, Mary's, Joseph's or Jesus's human nature, or the common
childbirth back then, I hope you enjoy Divine Beginning.


         dedicate this story to all the wise people of the world who are
working to bring birthing joy to as many of the families of the world as

Chapter One

        When Archaeologist dig up the remains from a earlier time in
history  they find artifacts and remains of homes that can help us picture
their life, especially when we combine these findings with writing from
that time.  They are constantly digging in Israel, and when they compared
these findings with the Holy Bible's descriptions they found that family
life, at the time of Jesus's birth, was their life.        

With a lot of children in a family, plus older generations, no formal or
public school, lots of household and farm work to do, mainly religious
social gatherings, and small  homes, we can imagine children growing up in
the love and protection of their elders. If we compare their life to ours
we may be free but definitely less protected. These were the Israelites of
the old testament where individual life was reserved for Kings, and

 When we take a look at childbirth, in their society, we discover that
mothers resumed their household responsibilities right after the birth and
midwifery was common. Breastfeeding was extended, and ritual circumcision
was accomplished with only a slight nick.       

 There was always the prospect of danger, because Israel was a occupied
nation, but at the time of Christ's' birth Herod The Great had brought
peace and prosperity back to the land.

Chapter Two

        Mary was glad to wait, sitting on their donkey, while Joseph went
inside to see the Inn keeper. She had given up her self-will way back in
the beginning, when the Holy Spirit had first taken control. Ever since
then her life had been one miracle after another.      

     There was the visit from the angel Gabriel, where she first heard
that God had a plan for her life, and then the incredible fact of her
conception while still a virgin. Her husband could have put her away for
that, but instead he had become a most wonderful man. Her family could
have abandoned her but her cousin Elisabeth called her blessed of all
women, and said her unborn child had jumped for joy at the sound of Mary's
voice... .       

     Now she would be away from home at birthing time, with no midwife or
women relatives to help her, and yet she was not afraid!        

The trip had been long and she had passed the time lost in these wonderful
memories and now, as she felt her body caress her child just a little bit
harder, she smiled. It was just like the Lord to give her one more

Chapter Three

        Joseph wouldn't take no for an answer. After all Mary had said she
thought birth was near, and he couldn't let her labor in a tent out in the
open. The innkeeper was just as insistent, with all the people coming to
their ancestral home in Bethlehem all the rooms in town were filled to
overflowing. The innkeeper had even taken relatives into his own home, as
had everyone else he knew. These travelers would just have to take care of
themselves, but Joseph wouldn't leave. He knew how crowded Bethlehem was
but this innkeeper just had to help them.      

      "Okay, okay" said the innkeeper. "There is one place you can go for
shelter. Out back, we have a stable where we also put up our guest's

      Joseph thanked him profusely as the innkeeper showed him the way.

      It had been a long journey for Joseph and Mary, and Joseph had
walked the whole way. He said a silent prayer that God would give him
strength to 'be there' for Mary, during the birth. He knew God was near in
his dreams but Joseph still had doubts. After all husbands weren't usually
involved in childbirth, and all he was told to do was to make her as safe
as possible, but since they were a long way from home (in a town where
they were strangers) he would have to be Mary's helper too.       

      "Come Mary," said Joseph, "this kind innkeeper is making a place for

      "Here, you can have as much room as you need, and to insure your
privacy I will shut the gate for the night." said the innkeeper. "It's a
late hour and no more travelers will come now, and I don't have any rooms
if they do." (I'm sure the innkeeper felt safe in doing that, after all
they were such a nice couple, and she was obviously ready to deliver, and
Joseph had paid in advance.)

Chapter Four

        "Well this is wonderful, Joseph!" said Mary. "Let's pray, and
thank God right now."      

        And for protection through the night, thought Joseph. He didn't
share that thought with Mary until she had finished praying, and Joseph
closed their prayer with that request.        

      The star had settled over Jerusalem by then and three Gift Givers
were almost there. Angels were telling shepherds good tidings of great joy
and the praises of the heavenly hosts were filling heaven. This would be a
night for the ages, and when joy flooded over Joseph and Mary she became

       Mary's relatives had talked a lot about their births with her, and
midwives had shared all they could about how she would feel (and she had
witnessed relatives giving birth). This had all encouraged her not to
fear, but the midwives had also instructed her on what to do if she had
pain; but what she was feeling now increased her faith that everything
would be fine, and she loved and trusted Joseph.

Chapter Five

        Joseph finished rubbing down their donkey for the night and
provided plenty of hay and water, while Mary did a little tidying up.

Her body was starting to really tighten up now, during contractions, and
she needed to stop walking when that happened. Even then she felt
wonderfully secure. God is so good to us, she thought.       

 Her cousin Elizabeth said she felt close to God during John's birth, and
during the bliss afterwards. Mary remembered all the prayers relatives had
spoken and she just knew some were praying for them right then, and what
was that? Did she really hear angels singing?       

 I mustn't get proud of myself, thought Mary, It's only the beginning of
the birth. The other mothers had told her how she needed to be open to
what was happening and, since every birth is different, there isn't one
clear path. Mary also knew that talking would distract her now but she
felt good enough to start lightly humming the tune in her head, on this
silent and holy night.

Chapter Six

        When Joseph returned to Mary, and saw how content she looked,
tears came to his eyes. He knew this childbirth would change their lives,
but what was it the angel had said in his dream? This child will save his
people from their sins. What kind of baby would this be, thought Joseph,
and how would he feel towards him?       

      He was glad to see Mary happy, and just her presence seemed to put
these anxious thoughts away.        

      Joseph walked over beside her, and put his arm around her shoulders.
She smiled sweetly, and what was that sound? Later Joseph would say that
he thought he heard angels singing.

Chapter Seven

        "It stopped!" exclaimed one of the three travelers. "I think we
can be there by morning." They had been following the star every night for
weeks and they knew the end of their journey was finally in sight.

Chapter Eight

        Mary asked Joseph to make a bed of straw for them, as she needed
to rest, and he choose a corner for preparation. He was tired too and laid
down next to Mary. Before long they were both asleep.

Chapter Nine

        "Is this a Dream?" thought Mary. It was not daylight yet but
something had awaken her, or was this a dream? Suddenly she felt a strong
force pulse through her body that was unlike anything she had felt before,
and she realized it was almost time for birth.

        "Joseph" she called. "Joseph I think its time."

        Joseph was instantly awake.

        "What's happening Mary?" asked Joseph, as he stood up.

        Mary was on her hands and knees with the next contraction and she
felt her child move noticeably down into her softer tissues. The
suddenness took her breathe away, and that's when her water broke.

        Tears flooded down her face, and she couldn't control them as she
looked into Joseph's eyes. There was something she needed to tell him,
something she needed to ask, but she couldn't remember what.

        Joseph could tell this was the real thing and not knowing what
else to do he reached out and drew Mary to her feet. As he wrapped his
arms around her the animals in the stable watched, with rapt attention.

        The thought "Something wonderful is about to happen" flooded
Mary's mind and, already thankful when Joseph held her close, she felt

        She was still on her feet when another overwhelming feeling began
to course through her body, and the intensity of the sensation made her
knees weak.

        The silence in the stable was broken by a long low groan that took
Joseph by surprise. Mary had gripped his hands right before she suddenly
squatted in front of him, and he was shocked when he realized the sound
was coming from her.

        Mary would say later that her mind had gone blank, and the sound
seemed to come out on its on, as she spontaneously squeezed her whole body
with the contraction. She had felt better when she squatted and there was
no pain, only the sensation of fullness an great pressure.

        This would be the only time she would feel the urge to push, and
when the sensation passed she felt her whole body start to relax. Joseph
was on his knees in front of her by that time and Mary leaned towards him
and put her head on his shoulder. He felt his own heart pounding rapidly
as he took the weight of Mary's body in his arms. He had never witnessed a
baby's birth before and he prayed for wisdom as he tried to calm his body
with long slow breaths. Time seemed to slow down for Joseph and he became
aware of  Mary's heart beating, almost in time with his.

Chapter Ten

        Mary was in a almost dream-like state when she felt another
sensation building up in her body. She wouldn't tense up with this
contraction and remained slumped against Joseph. He could feel her
breathing pick up and suddenly another sound came from her lips

        Mary felt a slight burning sensation right before her whole body
seemed to explode with the most wonderful feeling she had ever
experienced. She was still leaning on Joseph when her body seemed to pause
for rest.

        After a short time she felt her body contract again, and another
wonderful feeling went through her as she felt her child slide out.

        When she suddenly leaned back on her hands and then laid back on
the straw bed, Joseph beheld the child laying at her feet, and gasped, and
his breath stopped.

        When he saw how perfect the child looked, and so tiny, he felt the
warmth of love flooding his mind, body, and soul. This child would grow up
under the umbrella of his protection and fill their lives with joy, but at
that moment Joseph only knew that this child was like no other.

        Mary raised up and, filled with compassion herself, she reached
down for her child. Joseph lifted the baby up to her outstretched arms and
she drew the child up towards her breast. Jesus's eyes locked on hers, and
when his lips found her breast Mary bonded with her child, body and soul,
and became the universal mother we love today.

Chapter Eleven

        When the innkeeper came to the stable at dawn he saw Mary nursing
her child, with Joseph sitting beside them. The sight was captivating and
he stopped, and just stared with wonder. After awhile, and not wanting to
intrude, he quietly slipped out unnoticed. Nobody was leaving the Inn that
day so they wouldn't be disturbed and he could quietly feed the animals

        There had been no need to sleep anymore that night for Mary and
Joseph, and they marveled at the child in their presence Joseph no longer
needed to wonder how he would feel towards this child, as joyful
contentment quieted his mind.

        Mary was filled with feelings of fulfillment too as she got to
know her child. The baby Jesus napped on and off, but when he was awake he
looked at his surroundings with the most amazing alertness and delighted

        Joseph and Mary would never again puzzle about the meaning of
their life. These feelings and their experiences after Jesus's birth gave
their lives a deeper meaning than they ever thought possible and lasted
their whole life.

Others would come to behold the child, and three would leave gifts. There
would be another dream for Joseph that would prompt him to take his family
and quickly leave for Egypt, but for now there was only these feelings of
peace, hope, love and joy.


        Neil Sorrells is the author of 'Shanjerneil' insights from and
results of a peak birth  experience, and is currently working on 'Writing
Shanjerneil', a book about his decision to become a childbirth educator
"Neil Sorrells" Email: [email protected]

For a printer-friendly web version of this story go to: 


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REVISIT: Last month’s reprint article……..

Recently I received a letter from subscriber Abby Ward. Abby was
responding to last month’s newsletter article “When Jesus was Born”. I
wrote to Abby explaining briefly what I knew about the date of Jesus’
birth, that it was my understanding that Jesus was probably born in the
Springtime and that the early Church assigned the date, December 25, for
reasons of their own. (Of interest: I typed the name of the article wrong
in the newsletter; it actually is called “How Was Jesus Born” but no one
wrote me about it, so I guess it was a harmless error)

I asked Abby if she had the time to do some research about this issue and
here are Abby’s results:

Dear Greg,
I did quite a bit of research, and found some very interesting, although,
extremely unpopular truths. I think it’s a lot like breastfeeding, there
is no denying the incredible benefits, but people that won't allow it to
"fit" into their lifestyle cover over the facts. 

Here goes:
McClintock and Strong's Cyclopedia says: "The observance of Christmas is
not of divine appointment, nor is it of N{ew} T{estament} origin. The day
of Christ's birth cannot be ascertained from the N T or from any other
source." Vol. II pg. 276. 

The book Daily Life in the Time of Jesus states: "The flocks..passed the
winter under cover; and from this alone it may be seen that the
traditional date for Christmas, in the winter, is unlikely to be right
since the Gospel says that the shepherds were in the fields." Henri Daniel
Rops pg. 228. 

The Encyclopedia Americana states: " The reason for establishing December
25 as Christmas is somewhat obscure, but it is usually held that the day
was chosen to correspond to pagan festivals that took place around the
time of the winter solstice, when the days begin to lengthen, to celebrate
the 'rebirth of the sun'... The Roman Saturnalia (a festival dedicated to
Saturn, the god of agriculture and to the renewed power of the sun) also
took place at this time and some Christmas customs are thought to be
rooted in this ancient pagan celebration." Vol. 6, pg. 666. 

The New Catholic Encyclopedia: " The date of Christ's birth is not known.
The Gospels indicate neither the day nor the month...According to the
hypothesis suggested by H. User and accepted by most scholars today, the
birth of Christ was assigned the date of the winter solstice (Dec. 25
Julian Cal. or Jan. 6 Egyptian) because on this day, as the sun began its
return to northern skies, the pagan devotees of Mother celebrated the
birthday of the invincible sun). On Dec. 25, 274, Aurelian had proclaimed
the sun-god principal patron of the empire and dedicated a temple to him
in the Campus Martius. Christmas originated at time when the cult of the
sun was particularly strong at Rome." Vol. III p 656 1967 
The Battle for Christmas- Professor Stephen Nissenbaum: "Christmas was a
time of heavy drinking when the rules that governed people's public
behavior were momentarily abandoned in favor of an unrestrained '
carnival' a kind of December Mardi Gras." 
By the 18th century Jesus' birth had been associated with every month of
the year. But was chosen to coincide with the Roman sun festivals. 

The Paganism in our Christianity states: "It was a definite Christian
policy to take over pagan festivals endeared to people by tradition and to
give them a Christian significance." 
The Catholic Encyclopedia for school and home says in 567 CE the Council
of Tours "proclaimed the 12 days from Christmas to Epiphany as a sacred
and festive season." Christmas soon absorbed many features from the
profane harvest festivals of northern Europe. Merrymaking remained more
common than piety as revelers indulged in gluttonous eating and drinking.
Rather than speak out against the loose conduct, the church endorsed it. 

In 601 CE Pope Gregory I wrote to Mellitus, his missionary in England,
telling him "not to stop such ancient pagan festivities, but to adapt them
to the rites of the Church, only changing the reason of them from a
heathen to a Christian impulse." During the Middle Ages, reform-minded
individuals felt the need to speak out against such excesses. They sent
out numerous decrees against "the abuses of Christmas merriment." Dr.
Penne Restad in her book Christmas in America-A History says: "Some clergy
stressed that fallen humankind needed a season of abandon and excess as
long as it was carried on under the umbrella of Christian supervision." 

Christmas did not find favor in the New World colonies. Puritan reformers
viewed the celebration as pagan and banned it in Massachusetts between
1659 and 1681. When the ban was lifted rowdy bands of young men would
enter the homes of wealthy neighbors and demand free food and drink in a
trick-or-treat fashion. If the householder refused, he was usually cursed
and occasionally his house was vandalized. By the 1820's in cities like
New York and Philadelphia wealthy landowners began hiring watchmen to
guard their estates. It is even said that New York City organized its
first professional police force in response to a violent riot during the
1827-1828 Christmas season! 

People have long used holidays as a means to strengthen family ties, and
so its is with Christmas. Not to be overlooked though are the spiritual
dimensions. Millions of people celebrate Christmas in honor of Jesus'
birth. But how does God view the matter? Does not the church condone the
pagan origins of the celebration? Why do they not show the truth of these

Clearly, the facts about Christmas are not very flattering. It is largely
a manufactured holiday with much evidence pointing to a degraded past. 

I also did research on the Wise men or Magi and the time they actually
visited Jesus. And the gift giving practices and Santa origins. I didn't
want to send it because this is rather long already. If you'd like those
references too, I'll be happy to send the research along. 


We have a special Christmas Card available and there is still time to
order. Take a look: 


Joy and Peace.

Catherine Young
Jody McLaughlin
Greg Cryns


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