Christmas Countdown Day 12 focused on the census. As part of a worldwide Roman census, Joseph took Mary, now great with child, on a road trip to Bethlehem. They were two in the midst of thousands upon thousands traveling across the countryside to obey the law that they be counted. As they passed through the crowds, trying to get to Joseph’s hometown, they must have felt small, unimportant and alone. Like trying to find a marble in the midst of a jar of rice, they were sifted as they made their way to a town where, as it turns out, every door was closed to them except a dirty stable. Though they may have felt like just a number to the Roman empire, they were the two counted and chosen by God to be His One and Only Son’s earthly parents. We count, just as Mary and Joseph did, in God’s eyes. We are not a number in all of humanity, we are his precious children. Tonight we made census jars. We dyed rice green, let it dry, and filled baby food jars. Then we placed four marbles, representing our family, into the jar, sealed it, and shook it up. We imagined what it was like for Mary and Joseph to travel across the country to Bethlehem, feeling like two in the midst of so many. We thanked God for seeing them and taking care of them, and for loving us that way, too. Then, we found the marbles in our jars by shifting the rice around.