I’ve been thinking a lot about Christmas, of course, because it is right around the corner. While it seems like it has snuck up on me, I am trying very hard to consciously remember the real reason behind Christmas.
Of course, everyone thinks about Christmas day, when Jesus was born. Some people think about the way Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem for the census. But how often do you think about Mary and Joseph’s life before the baby was born? Before the angel came to Mary and told her the news that would not only change her life, but change the world.
Think about Mary. She was probably about 12 or 13 when she became engaged to Joseph. Though the bible does not talk about Joseph in a lot of detail, I get the impression that he is an amazing man. For Mary, this was not unusual. Mary would have been helping her mother around the house, of course, but a grown (hard to imagine that 13 is grown) woman is better served starting her own family.
So, Mary was betrothed to Joseph. I have no idea what weddings were like at that time, but I can only assume that there was some amount of planning going on before the actual wedding, before the time that Mary and Joseph could actually live together. I don’t know how Mary was feeling, but I can tell you how I was feeling in the days and weeks leading up to my own wedding. I was a bundle of nerves, anxious to start my new life with my husband, and I was (and still am) deeply in love with him. For Mary, things would have been slightly different because, being betrothed, she most likely wasn’t in love with Joseph. But I do think she would have been nervous about setting out on her own. I can’t help imagining her as a young child, setting out on her own. Joseph was probably older, but not significantly. Two children, starting out on their own.
Then, Mary has a visit from an angel. I’m not sure if this was a regular occurrence, but if my friend came up to me and told me they had been visited by an angel, I would have thought she was crazy, and that’s just the beginning of the story!
If it was me, and an angel came to me and told me that I was going to have a baby, I’d be terrified. Just because Mary knew she was a virgin didn’t mean everyone else did, too, or would believe her when she told them the story. Poor Mary, a young woman, suddenly pregnant, with the eyes of everyone in the village on her.
It’s Mary who I like to think about when I ponder the Christmas story. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must have been like to feel that baby growing inside her, knowing that he was God’s son.
Whether you are a mother or not, whether you have carried a baby or, like me, never have, think about this story this year as you are unwrapping presents, and watching the joy of recipient’s faces. Think about what Mary went through as she approached the time when she would give birth to the reason for this holiday.