So, I fully admit that when it comes to this Christmas, I have not had my eye on the ball. At all. My mind has been in about 16 different places, and Christmas had barely registered in my daily routine, let alone in my heart. This is all of my own doing, and I am not going to complain. At least I haven’t gone far into the commercial aspects, trying to assuage my mommy-guilt by buying Everything Under the Sun. It is soooo very easy to fall back on the whole Santa, reindeer, Frosty the Snowman aspects when there doesn’t seem to be time for anything. Especially when Santa and gifts and cookies and all that commercialism is exactly what kids want.
Everywhere I hear these admonitions about remembering the real meaning of Christmas, and they hit particularly close to home, because, well, this year I need that reminder. And while the nativity story is a beautiful one, I find myself thinking of what it must have been like for Mary and Joseph. First, to make such a long journey so late in her pregnancy. I remember when I was pregnant with Little Miss G, I didn’t even want to drive across town to the grocery store, I was so uncomfortable. Mary is often depicted riding on a donkey, but I can’t imagine that was much more comfortable.
Then there is Joseph, who must travel to a small, unfamiliar little town at a most inconvenient time. He sees his wife’s discomfort, and there is no place but a stable. Can you imagine his anxiety? How hard it must have been for a man who wants to provide to the best of his ability to accept such a meager place for his wife to give birth to the Son of God? There was no one to help. No doctor, or midwife, or a more experienced woman to help her. Can you imagine what must have been going through is head, what prayers he must have been sending up to Heaven, as he cleared away the dirt and mess to clear a spot for Mary? But, if anything, Joseph is a study in humility and faith. I’m no biblical scholar, but as I’ve grown older, I understand the risks Joseph had to accept. He was reassured by the Lord’s angel, and his faith in God was unflinching, but just because he believed who this Child was, it was guarantee that all the people in his family and community–all the people who were important to him–would believe.
And then. There is the wonderful, perfect, Holy Child. A baby–tender, human, and sweet– just as all babies are. I imagine Mary nuzzling that brow with her cheek and whispering prayers of thanksgiving, like mothers every where, throughout time, do when they hold their newborn miracles in their arms and try to comprehend the life they have just brought forth. That same, warm brow that could now fit into the palm of her hand, would someday be pierced with thorns to mock him.
She holds his two tiny feet in her warm hands, admiring the tiny perfection of his toes. Those same feet would someday be washed in perfumed oil and dried with a woman’s hair, such was the woman’s love for Him. Later on those feet would walk to a place of agony and death to take the place of all sinners for all time, such was His love for us.
And finally, those hands, tiny little fingers curled into a fist, Mary slips her finger inside of his palm and marvels at the strength of his tiny grip. Eventually those hands would reach out to the prostitute, the tax collector, the adulterer, the sick and the poor–offered in friendship, and acceptance, and love, over and over and over again, until finally they would be extended out and nailed upon the cross.
A woman as devout as Mary would know who this Child is. She knew that there would come a day when she will have to submit to Him, to serve Him, to accept Him as her Lord.
Did she know the pain He would suffer? There would come a day when He would be betrayed; when a crowd of His brethren would look upon Him and and shout, “Crucify Him!” She would have to watch her Son die. I am certain she knew that He would conquer death, but I cannot imagine that that would soothe the suffering she must have felt at His agony on the cross. I also cannot imagine her joy to behold her Lord arisen from His tomb, clothed in glory.
Yet for this moment, for this night, here was the newborn Son of God, the Lamb sweetly sleeping, the Messiah that had been promised to us all. A baby, so much like any other newborn child, yet who was so, so much more that the angles sang for joy, and their chorus was heard on Earth.