|Twelve Days of Christmas: Day 2
Mary’s First Child
Excerpted from Rubel Shelly, What Child Is This? (West Monroe, LA: Howard Publishing Company, 1996).
As with every other girl she had known while growing up in Nazareth, Mary dreamed of getting married and having a baby. But the reality of this night had never been part of those fantasies.
There had been no baby showers for Mary. There were no celebrations of the impending birth with neighbors. But there had been much whispering, some furtive glances in her direction, and even some snickering by girlfriends from her recent past. The pregnancy had not been difficult physically, but it had been an emotionally draining nine months.
The birth itself had not even been in Nazareth. Her mother was not with her. There hadn't even been a midwife. She and Joseph had been alone in a place meant for animals rather than people.
Joseph had been wonderful to her. He made her a clean place and prepared as comfortable a bed as he could. He had been nervous. You could tell that he was hoping the baby would not come tonight. When the pains started, however, he was calm. And his huge, strong carpenter's hands had been as gentle as he could make them be in helping Mary give birth to the son he had not fathered.
The two of them wrapped strips of cloth they had brought from Nazareth around the baby's limbs and torso to keep him warm in the night. As countless parents have done before and since, they counted fingers and toes. They gazed into each other's eyes and spoke of their love for each other and the child. They prayed and thanked Yahweh for choosing them to be the parents of the tiny boy received in a stable and laid in a manger.
Now the infant was sleeping beside Mary. Add to the feelings every mother has about the miracle of her baby's birth the special knowledge she had about an angel's visit, a miraculous conception, and the dream of Joseph, and Mary must have been in awe. Exhausted and still in pain from delivering the baby, she was nonetheless aware that the child who had just come from her body had come to her womb from the throne room of heaven. When she did finally fall into peaceful sleep, what would her dreams have been at that point?
Could she have imagined the tension within her own family as this child's younger brothers would one day taunt him for his dreams?
Surely she could not have dreamed on that special night of the rejection Jesus would suffer in Nazareth, at Jerusalem, and from the most powerful men of Israel.
And it cannot have come to her mind that she would, about thirty-five years from this night, stand by helplessly and watch him die horribly on a Roman cross.
Tonight she could only be happy and feel close to God. She experienced a sense of peace within the divine scheme of things that few people in the history of the world would ever know.
Mary had just given birth to the Son of God, the Messiah, Immanuel. Every time she awoke that night, she would look at him and whisper his name, as if saying it so many times would make it and the child fit each other. "Jesus. Jesus. Jesus."
She knew that the drama of the life of her first child had only just begun.
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