The first Christmas … Mary wasn’t in labor when they got to Bethlehem. If no one had had space for them, Joseph would have taken Mary to her relatives, Elizabeth and Zechariah. “From Bethlehem, you can get to any village in the hill country of Judea by one hour on donkey back,” Dr. Ken Bailey said.

Middle Eastern cultures have valued family and hospitality for millennia. When Caesar Augustus decreed that people had to register for the census in their hometown, Joseph went to Bethlehem “because he belonged to the house and line of David” (Luke 2:4).

“To turn away a descendant of David in ‘the City of David’ would be an unspeakable shame on the entire village,” Bailey writes in his book Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes

In other words, Joseph’s relatives welcome him and his betrothed for the final weeks of her pregnancy. The village midwife and women help Mary birth Jesus. “They don’t have a cradle, so they lay Jesus in the manger, which is clean, and put a blanket over him nice, warm, and tidy,” Bailey said.

Here are four audio stories, helping us to prepare our hearts, minds, and souls for Christmas during this Advent season.

Sister Helen Prejean, Dead Man Walking fame, shares insights about the shepherds  to give us a realistic view of Christmas through the marginalized people in our world. Listen to her by clicking on the audio button below.

A simple Christmas in the warm heart of Africa removes a missionary couple from the seduction of consumerism. Edith talks of being far from home and enjoying Malawian friends during the holiday.  We had just enough food for celebrating Christ’s birth. Listen her story by clicking on the audio button below.

Everyone’s favorite neighbor, gets negative feedback when he de-mythologizes Santa Claus, some of the parents want to use the jolly old man as a club. Fred explains his thoughts about Santa and Christmas. Listen to Fred Roger’s story by clicking on the audio button below.

Ray Buckley is an author who grew up on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. He is an advocate for Native Americans.  Ray tells his grandmother’s story about being mugged on Passages as a Christmas story. Click on the audio button below to hear the short feature length story. Second audio button below is the longer full-length version of Grandma’s Moccasins.

Ray’s Story Grandma’s Moccasins Full-Length

Have a wonderful time of preparation in sharing you holiday stories this Advent and Christmas seasons with family, friends and strangers too!

Have a blessed holiday season from the PMM Leadership Team.

Gregg Hartung, Director