The little donkey trudged wearily on. It had been a long trip from Nazareth and he was really looking forward to a warm stable and a meal of fresh hay.
His load was heavy for such a small donkey. But he didn’t mind. The man had been kind – concern for his wife urging them on.
The woman had spoken softly to him every so often, grateful she had not needed to walk the entire way. The baby she carried, although now due, had caused her no problems or worries on this trip.
The little donkey sensed there was something special about this trip. His desire to know what it was had kept his feet moving one in front of the other for many miles now.
But their trip was almost at an end. The little donkey could smell the familiar odours of the town as they drew closer. The stench of stale ale. The smell of food and spices. A nearby stable.
For a reason he didn’t understand, the little donkey felt excitement begin to rise and he increased his pace.
“Steady now Little One,” gently whispered the man. “It’s not much further now.”
A short time later the man drew him to a stop outside a noisy Inn.
“Look after Mary now Little One,” he urged, “while I find the Innkeeper.”
With that the man disappeared inside only to reappear a short time later shaking his head.
“They don’t’ have any room for us,” he told Mary. “We must try somewhere else.”
Little One trudged from Inn to Inn carrying his burden as the scenario was repeated over and over again.
Just then the opened and an elderly man stepped outside with a lantern in one hand and a basket in the other.
As he handed the basket to Joseph he explained, “My wife thought you might be hungry.”
“Please thank your wife for her kindness,” Joseph replied as he took the basket and handed it to Mary.
The man then led them by lantern light along a path that wound behind the Inn to a small stable.
“I’m sorry it’s not more comfortable,” the man apologised as he lit another lantern.
“This will do just fine,” replied Joseph. “Thank you for your kindness.”
Little One watched patiently while Joseph settled Mary on a bed of hay and blankets.
“Okay Little One,” said Joseph as he gently stroked Little One’s nose. “Your turn now. How about some nice fresh hay and a long rest?”
Little One nuzzled Joseph’s hand in response.
Mary and Joseph ate the bread and cheese from the basket the Innkeeper’s wife had given them before settling down for the night.
Little One watched and waited.
He could sense something special was going to happen. He just didn’t know when.
Little One woke with a start. He must have fallen asleep, but what had woken him.
He moved closer to where Mary and Joseph sat whispering near the manger.
It was then he noticed the manger no longer held the hay he’d been nibbling last night.
Instead, lying there in the manger was a sleeping baby.
“Don’t worry Little One,” smiled Mary. “Meet your new King. This is Jesus, the Son of God.”
Little One looked at Mary and then back at the baby sleeping so peacefully.
“Well?” asked Joseph. “What do you think of your new King?”
Little One nodded his head and brayed softly in approval.
IN the days that followed, Little One saw a procession of visitors to the baby Jesus as he lay quietly in the manger.
First there were some shepherds. Little One was amazed when he heard them say they had left their flock to look after itself because an angel had appeared in the sky and told them to go and visit their new Saviour.
Then there was the Innkeeper and his wife who brought a beautiful blanket for the baby and some more food to help Mary get her strength back.
After that there were the wisemen who had come from the East. They had brought special gifts for the little baby. They called him a ‘King’ and gave him gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh.
Little One remembered Mary had told him the baby was a King. She had also said he was ‘Jesus, the Son of God’.
During all this time, Little One had stood patiently and protectively beside the manger, watching and listening.
It seemed he’d been right. Something special had happened.
This little baby Jesus was God’s very own son.
He would grow up and one day he would save the world from sin and corruption, death and disease, war and famine, hatred and spite.
Little One felt so proud, he had helped the baby Jesus. He had carried Mary safely from Nazareth to Bethlehem where baby Jesus had been born.
And in a few more days he would carry Mary and the baby Jesus on the next leg of their journey.