Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Pregnant Virgin Mary

It is Christmas time once again. The "season" starts earlier and earlier every year. By the time my kids are parents, Black Friday sales will probably start some time after the fourth of July. I wont lie, I get a little wrapped up in it. I love this time of year and it is so hard not to get overly excited about it. I decorated much earlier this year. I started working on the gifts much earlier as well (partially because my idiot self decided to hand make every one's gifts this year... stupid... ) and I began planning our Christmas dinner menu earlier this year too. It's so easy to get wrapped up in the "fun" of it all and totally forget what we're really celebrating.

I've been trying this year to make sure the kids understand what Christmas is all about. It's Jesus' "birthday". That is what we're celebrating. Not Santa (although we do the whole Santa bit in our home), not gifts, not lights and toys and cheer. We are celebrating the birth of our Lord. It IS what Christmas is about. I realized today though that I wasn't doing a good enough job of getting through to the kids when a commercial came on and the music was fun and there was ribbon flying and people smiling and dancing and my three year old daughter screams and points, "Look, Mom! There's Christmas!"

Ugh. Fail.

I tried to explain to her what she was watching and reminded her that Christmas is a celebration of Jesus being born. I know she's young and that she'll get it eventually but if I don't start now, it may get lost along the way.

I started thinking though about the Christmas story. I have often read the story of Jesus' birth from the gospels in the Bible. I have often tried picturing what the stable looked like that night. What the town of Bethlehem looked like back them. Today though, my thoughts took an interesting turn. Maybe because I'm a mother now or maybe because one of my children is still a baby. I'm not sure.

I've wondered before about what Jesus was like as a baby. As an infant. Did he cry? Did he get fussy when he was teething? Did he get restless at night and keep Mary awake? My guess is yes. Although he was God come down, He was also human. And human babies cry and they get hungry and they stay awake at all the wrong times. I came to this assumption a long time ago.

However, today, my thoughts turned to Mary. May I just say that she had to have been one incredible woman! Not only was she seen by God as fit to carry his Son and raise Him (which in and of itself is the greatest honor any woman could receive) but she traveled and went through all kinds of emotional upheaval during her pregnancy.

We're told that Mary was a virgin and that she was engaged to Joseph, who I am assuming was also a righteous individual. Then, out of the blue, an angel shows up (which alone would have scared the life out of me) and tells her that she will be pregnant with and give birth to the prophesied Messiah, the Son of God, the Savior of mankind. Are you kidding me? My heart would have stopped right then and there. I'd have either keeled over out of shock or at least passed out. But there's the first of many differences between Mary and I. She had such faith in God, she had her heart so lined up with His will that she accepted what was told to her and went on. Can you imagine the emotions she must have went through? Her human body was going to give birth to a human baby. Virgin and all, she was pregnant. A woman's hormones go NUTS when she's pregnant. Ask my poor husband. He stays clear of me for the first 3 months and the final 2. But having to deal with the emotions of being a pregnant virgin, dealing with a society that scorned unwed mothers, having to attempt to explain being a pregnant virgin to her fiance and her friends and family. The tears she must have shed. Regardless of how righteous of a woman she was, this had to be hard for her. It couldn't have been easy to face. Down right scary.

Thankfully, God also came to Joseph and told him what was going on. That poor man must have been going crazy too. Even though he was most likely a righteous man himself, hearing that your fiance was pregnant with the child of God had to be pretty tough to swallow. He was planning on dumping her. Until God told him what he was to do.

So, poor Mary is going through all these emotions and a marriage and visiting family and then she and Joseph have to travel to partake in the census. I just did a little bit of quick research and they had to travel roughly 80 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Ok, today, that would have been about an hour and a half driving time. In all seriousness, in the final few weeks of this last pregnancy for me, I hardly left the house because I was so afraid of popping out the baby in the middle of the grocery store. There's no way I'd drive an hour and a half away. I missed my Dad's retirement ceremony and party because I was due about 2 weeks after it and was afraid to drive 10 hours away from home. I understand that they HAD to go but she had to know she was close to the end of her term and it had to be nerve racking. Let's say that they were going about 3 miles an hour. I'd be surprised if they were even going that quickly but let's just speculate here. It would have taken them almost 27 hours with out stopping. Any woman that's ever had a baby though knows that it wouldn't be without stopping. First, she wouldn't be walking if she was on her feet. She'd have been wobbling. And she'd have gotten tired and out of breath. If she was riding the donkey like is commonly depicted, she would have gotten sore really quickly. Not to mention trying to hold on if she had been having contractions. And don't get me started on having to pee every 5 minutes. Either God spared her of all this or it took them like 4 days or more of traveling. How frustrating would that be?

Now, upon arrival to Bethlehem, all of the inns were full. The poor woman had to go sleep in a stable. I've got no clue what beds were like back then or if they lived in a home with tiled floors or anything but I would imagine that their home was a lot cleaner than a barn. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the barn, with all the dirty animals pooping where they stood, was not anywhere close to being a sanitary environment. I don't know how long they were there before she went into labor but she had to be freaking out a little bit. Just a little. No woman wants to give birth to her baby in a barn. But she did. And she took care of Him and she survived the whole ordeal.
I know that this happened a long time ago but I can't help it. My heart goes out to her knowing that what she went through mentally, emotionally and physically to give birth to God's Son had to be difficult. This, obviously, is one of the reasons why God chose her though. She probably handled it gracefully with faith that could have moved mountains. She had the support of her husband who was in close communication with God as well as other family members who were also strong in their faith, strong enough to be worthy of parenting John the Baptist. I admire her strength. And I appreciate what she went through as a human woman to honor God's will and give birth to our Savior. 

The true meaning of Christmas:

"This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.' All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will be with child and they will call him Immanuel' which means, 'God with us.' When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus." Matthew 1: 18-25

"In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, 'Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.' Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, May, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.' 'How will this be,' Mary asked the angel, 'since I am a virgin.' The angel answered, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth, your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.' 'I am the Lord's servant,' Mary answered. 'May it be to me as you have said.' Then the angel left her." Luke 1: 26-38

"In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And every one went to his town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." Luke 2:1-7

May you all remember the real reason for this "season". I pray that you are able to accept and receive the most wonderful gift that will ever be offered to you. The gift of salvation through the Son of God, Jesus Christ. If you don't know what I'm talking about or would like to know more, please feel free to leave me your email address and I will gladly respond! Merry Christmas.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this...a great reminder of the reason we celebrate Christmas. It's all about Him, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. I often wonder what went through Mary's head and also what kind of childhood Jesus had during those years when not much is mentioned of Him. What kind of parents were Mary and Joseph to their miracle child?

    Loved this post.



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