Luke 2: 1-7
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
This passage gives enough detail to be able to set it in a historical base. It appears that all the persons mentioned were about at that time but the dating has to in the end be taken with a bit of a guess. There are people who want to destroy the story as fantasy, but it seems to me that date keeping was not as sophisticated as it is in modern times and nothing is lost truth-wise necessarily because there are a few minor discrepancies in date and between records. In essence there was a census in Judea and Joseph and Mary because of their common lineage had to go to Bethlehem. Born to humble people, in a basic situation with minimal equipment – wrapped in swaddling cloth – apparently a long piece of linen some 10-15cm in width – was the common practice. Being placed in a manger was not usual, however. Presumably the size of the crowd at the census and possibly knowledge that Joseph wasn’t the father forced them to bed down in some humble place and use a manger for a baby’s cot. Certainly not a place for one called a king by the wise men of Matthew, but many babies all around the world are even these days born into just as humble a world.
Prayer: Please help me to neither be blinded by doubt or on the other hand gullible acceptance of all I’m told. But the story is intriguing.