Today: Tuesday, December 10, 2019
 
 

Christmas with Mary    (12/27/2009)

It must have been tough being the mother of Jesus. Not that you'd guess that from most children's nativity plays! You might just realise that a 70-mile donkey ride at the end of a long pregnancy wouldn't be very comfortable... and finding that the accommodation was double-booked when you eventually arrived can hardly have been good news. But that was only part of it.

You're engaged to be married, you're young and vulnerable (just a teenager) when, out of the blue, comes a message - you're going to have a baby, with God as father, and your baby will have a world-changing destiny in front of him. What do you say to your fiancé and your family? No wonder Mary was “deeply troubled” - sounds like a massive understatement!

At that time, government taxes required a census, which meant a long journey to your family home - just at the wrong moment for Mary. The birth, which happened almost as soon as they arrived in Bethlehem, was hardly in ideal conditions, although Mary doesn't seemed to have complained. But it can't have been comfortable.

And then, days later, she takes her baby to Jerusalem to dedicate him to God, but receives the warning that she will face sorrow which will be like a sharp sword breaking her heart.

That warning was fulfilled thirty or so years later, when she stood at the foot of a cross and saw her son die in the agony of crucifixion. If you've ever known a mother's grieving for the loss of a child, you will have glimpsed the depth of Mary's suffering.

That grief, shared by many others, was transformed days later when the dead and buried Jesus was raised from death. There is another, glorious, side to that story and to Mary's emotions.

But thinking of what she went through reminds us that all the sentimentality of our kind of Christmas has a darker side. It's hard for the bereaved and the lonely, for the hungry and the homeless, for those anxious about their family or work or the future.

I hope Christmas has been good for you, that you've had loving people around you, and lots to enjoy together. But I hope, too, that you have spared a thought for those who, like Mary, have lived in shadows. Better still, of course, if you are able to do something for them.

Christmas is not just a story - it's real. It's about real people, in a real world, with real emotions and real problems. It's also about the real God whose plans are real and who touches the reality of our world in the real birth of a real baby to a real mother. And it's a story that doesn't stop there, but goes on to show the amazing reality of God's love and longing for the world and every person in it.

Mary's mixture of emotions and the problems she faced can help us. Maybe as you face similar realities for yourself, you can share the reality of the joy and the hope that Mary had, and know the presence, not just of the Christ-child whose birth we celebrate, but the Saviour who was born to bring us back to our true Father.



Pray: God, you are the ultimate reality, thank you for coming in Jesus to our real world to share our lives. Thank you, too, for Mary - and all that she bore in loving obedience to you. Thank you for all the good things of Christmas. Please help those who suffer or are in need, and those who try to help them. And help me to welcome Jesus into my life and home - at Christmas, and every new day. Jesus, I welcome you now.

Think about: The Christmas story is told in Luke [NT[, chapter 2 and Matthew [NT] chapters 1 & 2 - and it's worth reading for yourself. But look especially at the wonderful song of Mary in which she sees beyond what the message means for her to what God is doing for all people. And listen to the joy! (Mary's song of praise, also called the Magnificat, is in Luke 1, verses 46-55.)

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