Many of us are very familiar with the Christmas story. To summarize:
Mary, a virgin was told by an Angel that she would have a baby …. Impregnated by the Holy Spirit. Her fiancée, Joseph after deliberating amongst himself decided he wasn’t having that and was going to leave her. An angel came to him and convinced him otherwise. They travelled to Bethlehem and the beautiful baby boy was born in a manger in a stable because no rooms could be found in an inn.
Here is what you usually do not hear:
1) Mary, a young female, who was also poor must have been scared out of her living mind. In her day, getting pregnant out of wedlock was a main cause for death. Can you just imagine the courage she must have tried to gather to tell Joseph, her parents and even friends! “Honey, I am pregnant. And no it is not yours but God’s”…
He probably thought it was a joke at first. Let’s face it. No man would have been able to swallow that pill without a divine intervention.
But the tears she must have cried. And the worry she must have experienced as she waited to see what Joseph would decide to do. How she must have prayed and prayed for God to soften his heart.
2) Joseph, a young male, excited about his future bride. He would have been preparing the dowry and getting things all ready for the big day. Pledged to be married to a beautiful, faithful and young bride and it all came crashing with 3 words: “I am pregnant” … The shock, the disappointment and then the anger. How embarrassed he must have felt that he bragged about this girl to all of his friends to now see that she was a deceiver. His hopes, dreams and future crushed. He thought of two choices (divorce her quietly or stone her) to solve the problem and decided on the first one which spoke highly of his character, but the Angel gave him a third – marry her. Say what now?
3) But he marries her and they lived happily ever after… Wait… Nope not that kind of fairytale. The divorce rate is so high worldwide because couples enter marriage with that fairy tale mindset and realize how mistaken they were. Joseph and Mary already had a rocky beginning and a lot of baggage that would have residual pain. After all, Mary accepted the hand of a man who rejected her and thought her a liar and deceiver. Joseph would have felt guilty for not believing her and then leaving her to worry about his decision. The bottom line here is that you rarely hear sermons on the emotional start of this wedding… It couldn’t have been easy.
4) Then to make matters worse… At 9 months pregnant. In the blazing hot sun. No Air Conditioning … On a donkey where she must have felt every hole and pebble in the road, Ceaser Augustus comes up with the bright idea for a census which meant they had to travel over 70 miles to Bethlehem. Now, I am not sure how many pregnant women you have been around but I dare you to name even three who you know were jovial, in high spirits and willing to travel in the hot sun for over 70 miles walking or on a donkey in their 9th month of pregnancy …
5) Then comes the even crazier part. There is no room at any inn and the only option was a stable. At 9 months pregnant, after 70 miles, we all know that Mary was not into Joseph, that donkey or anything the innkeepers had to say. She was exhausted, sore, miserable and just wanted to freshen up and rest. And everyone was in her way of getting that. We are very used to Christmas pictures portraying cute little animals and baby Jesus in a manger. The truth is that stables in those days were dark cave like structures. There would have been none to very little light. It would have been grossly stink. And the manger would have been a dirty trough that the cattle would have eaten out of.
And the bible says: “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!” Luke 1:41-42
That line continually challenges and centers me when I hear the Christmas story.
God does amazing and great things with the most unlikely people. Mary and Joseph were insignificant and unknown. But played a great role in the saving of humanity. Receiving great blessings does not mean that the red carpet treatement will be pulled out but it requires unwavering faith, a dare to hope and a bountiful measure of belief in a God that never fails. Weeping is only for a night… Joy comes in the morning.
Food for thought: God will never forsake or leave you. He has an exciting plan for you and all things will work for good for those that love the Lord. So as you listen to the Christmas story again this year, or you see the beauty and commercialism that hides the truth about our Lord, remember that Christ, our King, came in to this world in a way that no one expected. He chose people that no one expected. His entire life was about doing the unexpected of the populace of the day. And today, he calls us to live like him, love like him and serve like he did. This Christmas season, do the unexpected like Jesus did and share God’s love. Stop fighting, spending, stressing and worrying about gifts and family dinners but serve the poor, encourage the oppressed and share a blessing with the widows and orphans.
Prayer: God of love, the Christmas story is the greatest ever told. Forgive us for forgetting the true purpose and meaning of that story. Forgive us for easily falling in to the trap the world has set for us during this season. We pray for a season of unexpectations. One in which will cease fighting, stressing and worrying over frivolous things. Instead we will come to you and seek your guidance on how we can do something unexpected for someone in need. In Jesus name. Amen
May God’s grace, mercy and peace be with you.