They shuffle out of the darkness, she is a little older than him, but their eyes are equally wide. They look around, expecting the bustling place to have come to an astonished halt. But no. The business of religion goes on, the priests continue their work, the smell of animals continues to fill the air; along with the sound of money and bantering, and the footsteps of so many people coming to see God. And yet, they have all missed him. They’re all looking the wrong way. All except this old, lowly couple, who are moving ever closer.
Joseph sighs but his heart quickens a little, as it had done when those unruly shepherds invaded their space not long after the birth. He’s starting to expect the unexpected. The old man nods, confirms what he could not have known without some divine help. He taps his left cheek, just below the eye. His gnarled finger shakes a little.
‘This is what I’ve been waiting to see – salvation! Salvation! The arrival of God amongst his people. His work has begun. This baby will be the making and saving of so many, A light for the whole world!’ His face falls a little, ‘As well as a stumbling block to so many others. The coming of God will not be an easy thing for you, this child will be opposed as well as embraced, persecuted as well as celebrated.’
Joseph frowns, Mary nods quietly. Meanwhile the other older woman is already beckoning towards others, smiling, whispering, passing on the message to any who happen to look their way. Mary and Joseph offer their required sacrifice, two pigeons for a poor family, and then make their way to the exit. And all the while, the business of religion goes on, the noise, the bustle, the energy. And amongst it all the old couple slip quietly from person to person, telling of the baby and the arrival of the humble God.