We had the Candlelight service at church tonight. It was good times.
It really is possible to forget that Christmas originated in the Bible…not the Christmas trees and the lights but the gift giving and the family time and the worship of God…
It’s almost foreign to have the Christmas story read from the Bible.
With the angels and the shepherds and the awkwardness…
you know what’s awkward? Being pregnant by the Holy Spirit. That’s awkward. And it’s not like people just forgot that Joseph wasn’t the father. Jesus comes back to Nazareth and he can’t do any miracles there – that’s the town where they don’t have enough faith for him to heal – because they all know him as “Mary’s son.”
Also awkward? Birthing in a stable. Props to Joseph, so that she wasn’t doing this alone. But there were animals there. That place was not just unsanitary, but it could’ve been cold (it was night if there were stars out).
More awkwardness – shepherds you’ve never met before, show up and say angels told them to come and worship. Firstly, it’s awkward to talk to angels – most people seem terrified whenever that happens. It’s happened to Mary, and Joseph (just once each, mind you) and now it happens to shepherds. Secondly, you’re alone with your wife, with your new son, and you know something big is going to happen with his life but right now you’re just experiencing exhaustion, excitement and the fear of God, then strange smelly men show up saying they’ve been talked to by angels, too. None of this makes sense so far but it’s their REALITY.
There is so much about the original Christmas that isn’t ideal. It’s not comfortable, they’re not surrounded by supportive family members, and who knows if Mary and Joseph’s parents ever came to believe that Jesus was born while Mary was a virgin, much less the son of God. Can you imagine how hard that would be to accept? That your daughter/daughter-in-law birthed the Messiah? Imagine. Mary and Joseph were alone, and probably not even in love the way we normally understand couples to be before they get married. Were they practically strangers to each other? Their common ground right now is faith in what the angels said. Faith in God. But they’re both in the dark about a lot of this stuff.
Joseph was a GOOD MAN. The idea to quietly divorce is noble, but then to respond to the angel favourably, and then take her, 9-months pregnant, to Nazareth! It blows me away what these two did!
And they were poor. That gold, frakensense and myrrh that eventually showed up must’ve been the ultimate “I didn’t know what we were going to do, and then this happened” moment. It’s a lot of responsibility, being a parent, but here they have a kid – do they even understand he’s the son of God? – and they’ve gotta feel pressure to raise him right and provide everything he needs. I’m sure that gold came in handy.
And Mary. The quiet one, who “Treasured all these things in her heart.” In other words…it didn’t all make sense right away, but she treasured what was happening, she was paying attention and taking notes. I think she knew that God would be faithful and it would all make sense one day. She even lived to see her son die…that must’ve been the biggest blow so far in her crazy life. But you know what? She didn’t disperse like the disciples did, she was at the foot of the cross. I think she somehow knew.
Actually, this whole time, she knew very little. She only had one angel appearance. So did Joseph. She was pregnant for nine months. Who knows if she got any family support. She gave birth in a stable. She was never rich. Does it make sense that God would come in the form of a child and be born to her, of all people? Does it make sense that he would die a criminals death on a cross? Then he rose again. So much of Mary and Joseph’s story is that of having faith, trusting God on what little assurance they had been given, and just … living life. Normally. Going about duties, and responsibilities. Believing that God would be faithful to his plan, no matter how much they were in the dark about it.
She also knew she was humble; an undeserving woman who had found favour in the eyes of God (clearly unbeknownst to her, clearly not her intent, clearly not an expected turn of events) and who would be called blessed by all generations. For being the mother of Jesus.
A kid is a blessing. They’re not mistakes, God doesn’t make mistakes. Whether we respond as we should doesn’t change the fact that a little baby is one of those gifts, straight from God. We don’t deserve to have them, people could’ve just emerged from eggs, that magically appear, in forest knolls. But God designed reproduction to be relationship, to be intimate, to create like he did, to be the result of love.
But how do you wrap your head around the idea of being the mother of Jesus. You didn’t just have a kid. Your kid’s father is God. Something spiritually significant, in a “created something from nothing” kind of way just happened inside you. It blows my mind. Then an angel talks to you. But the world hasn’t changed…just yet. John the Baptist is in the making (literally), but he hasn’t prepared the way just yet. So everyone thinks you’re a liar (or crazy). EVERYONE. Except your betrothed, who is also visited by an angel. Something spiritual is happening and not everyone is privy to it. You’re not going to fit in, when you’re a pregnant virgin.
But you have faith! Woman! You are a woman! And God could’ve emerged from an egg in a forest knoll, or more likely, descended from heaven on a cloud, yet he chose to be born!
Talk about being blessed.
And she had other kids! (I’m not catholic, I don’t think she stayed a virgin.)
You know, I think she might’ve understood…in bits and pieces. I think she had enough, to lean on. To base her faith on. But I don’t think she always got it. I’m sure she was confused and overwhelmed with helplessness when she saw her son on the cross. But I think when he rose again, she got it.
Blessed indeed! She saw Christ more than anyone else. She knew him. He loved her. She loved him.
Wow. It just struck me that God knows maternal love. Brotherly love. He had siblings. He was a first-born, eldest child. He was probably the responsible one with the least in common with the rest of his siblings. Yet he was a child. An adolescent. A young man. He loved his mother. And all of these relationships weren’t foreign to him because they were a part of God’s plan.
You know, I bet Mary was easy to love. She seemed like a humble, good woman of faith. And incredible woman of faith. And she was very close to God. :)
but Jesus knows what it’s like to have a good relationship with his mother. I should really ask him what that’s like. Maybe, the healing Jesus brought to his own mother (I assume he would be a tremendous blessing to her, in ways that made her a better woman by knowing him), I can bring, in Christ, to my mother.
my only hope, has been, and always will be, in Christ.
The little baby, who grew rather unremarkably, normally, into a man, and then died to save the world, and rose again. What a thing to celebrate. Not his ‘birthday’ (that’s cheese), but that he is with us. Emmanuel. My favourite name of God. God with us.