Last week I watched a BBC interview with a couple who write nativity plays. Apparently there is one that includes a couple of pizza delivery boys. Who knew that they had pizzas in Bethlehem? It seems that adding extra characters allows more involvement in the play and a few modern innovations and additions help to keep the old story fresh.
I don’t think anyone seriously believes that there were pizza delivery boys that night in Bethlehem. Or that Santa Claus called at the inn, or Wayne Rooney or Cliff Richard either, for that matter. Everyone knows that these contemporary additions are just a bit of dramatic embellishment to make nativity plays more fun for everyone. And, hey, as long as Jesus doesn’t get left out, what does it matter?
But I wonder if there was someone present at the first nativity scene who doesn’t make it into our telling of the story: in fact, this person is not even mentioned in the biblical texts.
But who do we think helped Mary give birth to God’s Son? Are we to think that she was left to handle this momentous event on her own? Was there a village midwife? Did a female relative of Joseph help her?
In his series of Advent reflections, Canon J John has been writing about the midwife. He reflects on the omission from history of this woman who nonetheless carried the awesome responsibility of helping to bring the Son of God into the world and notes lessons we can learn from her about fame and significance. He concludes that:
We can be anonymous to the world but no one is anonymous to God.
Forget the pizza boys. And call the midwife!