A child was born. He was named Jesus. And He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He will reign forever.
Over the past 2 weeks, the students have been busy in Health class. We have started our Healthy Habits and Eating Behaviors Unit by discussing the five Food Groups utilizing the USDA MyPlate. In Kindergarten and 1st grade, we talked about what types of foods fall into each group with the help of a MyPlate Food Group Sorting activity. In 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade we watched a series of videos from the Eat Happy Project about why fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates, protein, and dairy foods are good for our bodies. For example, dairy foods contain a nutrient called calcium that helps us build strong bones and teeth. We then discussed why having strong bones and teeth is important. The students’ answers varied but many said so we could run outside, sit up straight in our chairs, and chew our food. Additionally, the 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders are continuing to write in their Gratitude Journals once a week. Check back again next week to find out what we are learning!
Love In Action: Part 1
The story of Jesus’ birth has always been one of my favorites, especially during the holiday season. Movies have been made about it in both live action and animation, songs have been written that have become staples of the holiday season, and figurines have been manufactured to decorate our homes during Christmas, all to depict the simplicity of such a majestic night many years ago. The older I get, and the more I hear the story, the more questions I find myself asking about the details surrounding Jesus’ birth. Questions like: what were the travel conditions between Galilee and Bethlehem? There weren’t gas stations back then, so what did they do for food when they traveled? Without phones, how do you acquire lodging in the places you are traveling to? Anxiety driven mom questions I know, but valid questions nonetheless. The best way I know to find answers to questions that can’t be asked directly to the source, is to do a little research.
While I knew that a census was the purpose of Joseph and Mary’s travels just before the birth of Jesus, what I didn’t realize was that the reason for that census was because, at that time, there was general worry about the rise in population, and a fear that the country would not be able to feed itself. Since no one had accurate information on the number of people living in the country, Caesar Augustus ordered that a census take place. The first census occurred while Quirinius was governing Syria, and everyone was to go to the city of their lineage to be registered.
So Joseph went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, and into Judea, to the city of David, (Bethlehem), because he was of the house and lineage of David. The road between Nazareth and Bethlehem would have made for a grueling trip for Mary, now fully pregnant. There is 90 miles between the two cities, with major trade routes consisting of rocky trails, hills, and the heavily forested valley of the Jordan River. According to Rev. Peter Vasko, a Catholic priest and director of the Holy Land Foundation, an organization established to retain a Christian presence and promote the restoration of sacred Christian sites in Israel, bandits, pirates of the desert, and robbers were common along the major trade routes like the one Joseph and Mary would have been traveling down during those times. The threat of outlaws often would force solitary travelers to join trade caravans for protection. Traders took a number of people with them as passengers, and for a fee, would offer protection during their journey. Caravans would range in numbers and would consist of carts for carrying goods, donkeys for carrying passengers, and sometimes camels for carrying heavy loads. In addition to the camel’s burden-bearing ability, its dung, when dried, could be burned to provide warmth at night and fuel for cooking, and its hair was often used to make bedding. Donkeys would have been fitted with saddle bags filled with provisions of bread, herbs, oils, and wineskins filled with water to sustain the travelers they carried. It is likely that Joseph and Mary, along with any other travelers of that day, would have worn heavy woolen cloaks, over the top of their belted robes, made to shed rain in case of inclement weather during their journey. Without the use of modern transportation, this 90-mile trek would take them well over a week to complete, especially with Mary being in the final stages of her pregnancy.
If the hardships of spending more than a week on the road at nine months pregnant would not have been taxing enough, Joseph and Mary could have arrived in Bethlehem to find thousands of other people from the house of David there for the census. Under normal circumstances they would have expected to stay in the spare bedroom of a relative or another Jewish family. According to Morton Kelsey, a theology professor at the University of Notre Dame, hospitality was considered a great virtue in Hebrew society in those days. Families would add one or several large rooms to their homes to ensure they had a place to host relatives and friends whenever possible. Their motivation was not for commercial gain, but rather for the ability to open their homes to loved ones, friends, and travelers in need. However, an overcrowded Bethlehem would have forced Joseph and Mary to seek lodging at an inn that night.
To Be Continued.....
"Happy Birthday to you!
From old friends and new,
may God's blessings, happiness, and love follow you the whole year through!"