Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem exhausted. They searched and searched for a place to sleep and a place for Mary to possibly give birth since it could happen at any time. No one in the town had room for them until finally, an innkeeper gave them space to rest in his stable.
Joseph did his best to make Mary comfortable as the red cow, shaggy sheep, and roosting doves looked on. The animals looked on the little family with compassion and gladly shared their hay with the worn out donkey that had carried Mary so many miles.
Even though it was crowded, the town of Bethlehem settled down to a peaceful quiet as the night grew darker and colder. The stars began to stretch and flicker to join the night sky in its glorious display. The red cow, chewing her cud, lifted her eye toward the window of her stall and saw a strange star in the east, one she had not seen before. She wondered at the sight and looked toward the man and the pregnant woman and had a feeling that something very special was about to happen.
As the night grew on the sheep could tell that Mary was cold and uncomfortable, so they gently moved closer and lay beside her to give her warmth. The red cow gladly shared her milk to give Mary strength for her labor ahead. Feeling warm and full, Mary and Joseph drifted to sleep to the soft cooing of the doves.
The animals could hear the soft, rhythmic breathing of Mary and Joseph and in the warmth of the stable, the animals all drifted off to sleep one by one.
The red cow heard it first – the whimper of a human baby. Then the sheep and the doves. They all watched as the new mother gently wrapped her baby in strips of cloth. The saw the gentle, caring husband laugh with tears in his eyes. He took the baby from its mother and hold him up so the animals could see. He laughed and said, “It really happened as the angel told us! This is Jesus, the Son of God! This is our Messiah!”
At the stroke of midnight, the animal’s moos, bleats, and coos all turned into human words and phrases as they praised God for the miracle that they had the privilege to witness! The serpent had the power of speech in the Garden when it tempted Eve and so did all animals, but when all of creation was cursed because of man’s sin, they lost their ability to speak. But God said that one day, his Son would break the curse and at that moment, on Christmas Eve, at midnight, the animals could speak once more to be able to praise God for the One who was foretold. Mary and Joseph laughed in disbelief and joined the animal chorus giving glory to God!
In the distance, the rousing voices of the shepherds could be heard coming in search of the One the angels had told them about. Slowly the voices of the animals began to fade as their voices once more returned to their moos, bleats and coos. Mary and Joseph were amazed at this miracle. One more sign to them that their Son truly was the Son of God. And Mary treasured the moment in her heart.
It is said that at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve that all animals are once again given the power of human speech just for a few moments in remembrance of that night in Bethlehem. If you stay up and are patient and are very, very quiet you may witness a miracle.