A Christmas Story

Here is a Christmas reflection that I put together as I imagined what Mary experienced when she found out she was to be the mother of Jesus.

A Christmas Story

By Charlie Sandberg

Mary sat on the ground outside Nazareth, wondering what to do.  She was confused, uncertain and yet some how unafraid of the events of that day.  Five hours before all this happened she was just a normal girl, living a normal life but now everything was different.  The world was changing.  She felt it inside her, as she wondered about the changes this will make in the world around her.  “What will people think?  How will they react?  And Joseph – how will I tell him?”

Mary buried her head between her knees.  “Could this really be?  Could I really be the mother of God?”  She felt awkward even asking herself the question.  It seemed odd and unbelievable.  And yet it made perfect sense. It had to happen like this.  It had to be simple and yet complex.  It had to be easy to believe and yet unbelievable.  To be of God, it had to be like this.

Mary was pregnant with the Son of God.  The one who created her womb was now resting inside of it.  The one who loved the world was now coming to save it.  As Mary sat there trying to wrap her head around what she knew the wind picked up and whipped across her small frame.  She shuttered, wrapped her arms around herself and looking up into the coming night, she noticed the stars had come out, spotting the eastern sky like raindrops falling up to meet a dark satin cloth.

The night sky was beautiful this time of year.  Looking into it, reminded her of all the nights she had spent underneath it as a young girl.  Her dad used to bring her out to look at the stars when she couldn’t sleep.  Tucked underneath his arms, he would tell her stories about her family, who had lived so long underneath this sky.  Her favorite had always been the story about her distant relative Abraham.  Abraham was a man who God asked to count the stars.  As the story goes, God said that Abraham’s descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky.  This seemed impossible at the time, because Abraham didn’t have any children.  But Abraham believed God and followed him.

As Mary looked up at the stars, she wondered at Abraham’s faith.  Would she be as strong?  Would she be as faithful?  She knew that following God was never easy, but she had no idea it would be this hard, that it would require this kind of sacrifice, that it would be so lonely.  She felt this all, as she sat with her arms wrapped around her small body waiting for the night to move on.

And it did.  As it always does, the night moved on.  And as the stars slowly circled overhead Mary’s thoughts turned again to Joseph.  She had to tell him but how, and when?  She wondered again how this would affect their relationship.  Would he understand?  Would he stand beside her?  Would he still love her?

Mary couldn’t take the questions anymore.  She needed answers.  So picking herself up, she dusted the dirt from her dress and began a slow journey to Joseph’s home.

As she walked, she rehearsed what she would say.

“Joseph I am pregnant.  But don’t worry.  I have been faithful.  God did this.  I know it sounds crazy, but this is a miracle.”

She thought of all questions he would ask.

“Are you serious?”

“I think so.”

“How did this happen to you?”

“I don’t know.”

“Mary are you crazy?”

“Joseph I don’t know.”

Tears began to trickle down her cheeks.  She couldn’t imagine how this could go well.  How could anyone believe this?  It didn’t matter – she had to tell him.  So taking a deep breath, and wiping her tears, she moved on.

Joseph was sitting outside his house whittling a piece of wood, when Mary shuffled up the walkway.  When he saw her, he put down the wood and walked over to meet her.  Wrapping his arms around her, he talked about how it was a surprise to see her so late and how good it was for her to come.  Mary felt Joseph’s arms around her.  She pulled him close. He felt safe.  She felt like she belonged.  She was sure he would understand.

“Joseph can we go inside and talk.  There is something I need to tell you.”  So Joseph opened the door and the young couple went inside.

Joseph lit some candles and stoked the fire to bring warmth back into the small room.  At first the conversation was light.  Joseph knew Mary had something to say, but it was obvious she wasn’t ready to speak.  So he talked about his day, the table he was working on, the order of wood that got lost somewhere in Jerusalem.  After the small talk finished, the young couple sat in silence.

Joseph looked across the room.  The candle light cast a dim shadow over Mary’s face.  She looked different tonight.  She looked more serious, more grown up.  Something had changed.  Joseph sat in the silence trying to put his finger on it.

Finally Mary spoke.  “Joseph.  I need to tell you something. I…I’m…pregnant.”

Her words settled into the air and made questions.

“What did you say?”

“I am pregnant.”

“Are you serious?”

“I know this sounds crazy but this afternoon an angel came to me and told me that I had found favor with God, and that I was to be the mother of a King who will save our people.  I asked the angel how this could be because I am a virgin.  Joseph I am a virgin and so I thought it was all a mistake.  But the angel assured me that it was no mistake.  The angle said that the Holy Spirit has come on me and the power of the Most High has overshadowed me so that the child will be called the Son of God.  And Joseph I am so excited about this but I am scared and I don’t know what to do, and I don’t know what to think, and I don’t know what you think.  Joseph what do you think?  Do you believe me?  Do you still love me?”

Joseph sat in the silence wondering what to say.  It was clear that Mary was serious, but was she honest?  If she was honest this would change everything.  But he needed time and he needed space.

And so the young couple sat searching for words.  When none came Mary stood up and moved towards the door.  Joseph followed her.  It was clear she was leaving and although he wanted her to stay, she needed to go.  God’s working in his life would take time.  It would be something that God would need to do.  Mary couldn’t force it and so she moved towards the door.

Joseph held it open for her.  It was awkward for him to watch her walk away.  He wanted to embrace her and tell her he believed.  But he wasn’t sure.  So he stood there holding the door.  As she walked past him, they exchanged glances and Joseph mumbled something about staying warm, and how they would talk about this all tomorrow.  With that Mary walked out into the night, alone again with only the stars to comfort her.

Mary walked for a long time not knowing where to go.  She knew she should head home.  It was late and her parents would begin to wonder where she had gone off to.  But she couldn’t bring herself to it.  It had been a long day and she needed time.  And so she sat again wondering and waiting.

It was in that time, underneath the inky black eastern sky that the timeless one wrestled in her womb.  Mary felt the life within her and again wondered about the changes this would make in the world outside her.  She really didn’t know, but as she sat there, she realized for the first time she didn’t need to know.  She didn’t need to know what people would think.  She didn’t need to know if Joseph would believe.  She didn’t need more answers.  Like Abraham, she needed more faith.  After all God knew.  He had the answers.  He was in control.  And so in the face of the young girl’s uncertainty, she decided to follow, to believe and to obey and in so doing she placed herself in the hands of God to become the mother of God.

May this Christmas find you following, believing and trusting more in the God who wrapped himself in humanity to show his love, his mercy and his faithfulness to you.  Merry Christmas and God bless.

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