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  • Elle

On the Fifth Day of Christmas

God sent a donkey. He sent service.

Luke 2:4-5: And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judæa, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David), to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

Dear Friends and Family,

For years, on Christmas Eve, my parents’ grandchildren reenacted the Nativity. It was hysterically cute. There was much fighting and negotiating and lobbying on who would get to play Mary and Joseph, the angels, or one of the wisemen. Occasionally, someone would want to play the Innkeeper so they could yell, “NO MORE ROOM” or be the shepherd so they could carry the stuffed animal sheep and a staff. The shepherd had to be chosen carefully, as the shepherd’s staff was often turned into a weapon, whacking unsuspecting cousins upside the head. My parents have 32 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren, so it was ALWAYS a loud, fun, crazy, and chaotic rendition of the Nativity.

You probably won’t be surprised at all to find out that no one volunteered or wanted to be the donkey. Although, that could have been because we didn’t actually HAVE a donkey in our nativity. 😊 And the reason we didn’t have a donkey in our nativity could be because the bible doesn’t specifically mention a donkey, although artistic renditions of the Christmas Story depict Mary on a donkey for the journey to Bethlehem. But the most likely reason we didn’t have a donkey in our nativity was because, knowing how Bretzing grandchildren think, Mary would have insisted on trying to “ride” the donkey’s back, the donkey would have tried (successfully) to buck Mary off its back, and likely both children would have been hurt.

But, even if our Nativity had included a donkey, it would not have been the most coveted or sought after role. Who wants to be donkey? They don’t get a speaking part – Grandpa Bretzing would never have allowed a “Shrek” version of the Nativity. Donkeys don’t get to carry gifts of gold and their costumes don’t come with beautiful angel wings and halos. And we can’t forget, unlike shepherds, donkeys don’t get carefully chosen to carry a staff, or what has humorously been dubbed, “The Thumper.”

But what greater honor could exist than to be the donkey? The donkey carried Mary, the mother of Jesus, slowly and carefully from Nazareth to Bethlehem. He was the UPS, Fed Ex, and Amazon Prime of the Christmas story! He delivered the greatest gift ever given to mankind with care and precision. Thanks to the lowly donkey, the angels could shout “Hosanna,” the shepherds could leave their flock to go see the newborn king, the wisemen could travel thousands of miles to worship at Jesus’ feet, and mankind could be saved from their sins. The donkey delivered Jesus to Bethlehem so Jesus could deliver us.

After the donkey had done its job, the donkey humbly stepped aside. He did not seek attention, demand compensation, or fight for his share of the glory. The donkey simply faded from the spotlight and continued to do what donkeys were created to do: Carry heavy burdens from one location to the next, ever serving its Master.

Perhaps there is something special to be learned from the donkey: Maybe the donkey could teach us that the most important roles in life are given to those that quietly do as commanded, that those carefully and humbly carry the burdens the Master places on their back, and those that faithfully step forward in the direction requested by the Master. Perhaps the donkey can teach us that there will ALWAYS be a place in the Christmas Nativity, in God’s presence, for those that do as He asks without expectation of reward or compensation, for those that endure the burdens placed upon them, and for those that continue onward, day after day, in the service of the Master.

On the fifth day of Christmas, God sent a donkey. He sent service.

Love Always,

Hubby & Elle


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