'Tales of the Unexpected'
Read : Luke 1: 46 - 55 (NIV)
The angel said, "Do not be afraid! I bring you good news that will be for all people."
But I was afraid! How could I not be? I was young, that's what people forget. They look at these sweet pictures which portray me as calm and peaceful glowing! And they think how lovely this story is, and I know that it is a lovely story, but there is more to it than these saccharin pictures.
For a start I was only thirteen. I know many girls my age were married in those days, but I was also so very far from home. Joseph was very kind, but what does a man know about delivering babies?
We had travelled for long, long days to get to Bethlehem. I ached all over from riding all day on the donkey. My back was so sore and getting on and off was getting more and more difficult. I felt uncomfortable, ungainly. Not like myself. The roads were dusty and dirty and not entirely safe.
I knew that God was with me and that he would protect me, but I couldn't help being anxious. And all those long silent hours on the donkey's back gave me too much time to think. This was my first baby and I felt so alone. I wanted my mother. I wanted old Naomi who delivers all the babies in our village. I wanted my family round me, and my own home, not this strange town, and worst of all - a stable! At home I was busy preparing for the birth and getting married to Joseph, on the journey I spent hours and hours just thinking. Thinking about the past and the future!
I admit I was afraid was when the angel appeared and gave me the message. Me! The mother of God's son! Who wouldn't be afraid? But the angel's message was strangely comforting. Instead of being afraid I rejoiced in this sign of God's favour.
But in the midst of the rejoicing, I couldn't help wondering what people would say; what Joseph would say; what my mother would say!
I carried him for nine months, knit together in my womb; cradled in love and swaddled in promise. Truly safe for only a moment in time. In those early days I often thought of the psalmist's words, as he cried out to God: "it was you who took me from the womb; you kept me safe on my mother's breast".
Oh, that I might keep him safe. I loved him before he was born, and when I held him in my arms, my joy was complete, my sweet child, my lovely boy. But we had such strange visitors with such strange gifts and even stranger tidings.
I listened to all that was said. I watched great men bow before him and humble men bring him gifts given out of poverty and love. I hid these things in my heart. I treasured the good things and knew that my baby was without equal. I know all mothers think that, but for me, I had the word of an angel to prove it.
So the honour and homage that these grand folk paid to my precious son did not surprise me, but I sought to allay the undercurrents of fear and danger; I did not want to think of these things. My son was a gift to the world; I did not want to believe that the world might reject him.
I nursed him, safe in my arms, although vulnerable too. Such a fragile infant; such a hostile world. So many common dangers; illness, accident, privation, and added to these the uncommon dangers which I dared not think of, but which skulked in the corners of my mind, an ever-present backdrop to his early years. His uniqueness was not only evident to me and I knew that others were watching him; amazed and astounded but also resentful, envious and deprecating.
What wonder to teach the Way and the Truth. To give him the first lessons in life, during those important early years when opinions and character are formed. To create the loving environment in which he learned to read and to pray, to work and to worship. But how tremendous a task
What honour to give life to the great I Am, the True Vine. To mother the one who was the ground and source of all life. To give birth to the one in whom we live and move and have our being. But how awesome an obligation!
Is it possible to feel both proud and humble at the same time?
And then, of course, there was the bitter end. No parent should have to outlive their child. No mother should have to watch her son die, and such a cruel death!
And I knew that day would come. Secrets I cherished in my heart, bitter treasures buried with the sweet, warned me.
Delight in my sweet child became anguish for my beloved son.
The joy that pierced my heart as I held him for the first time transformed to the sharpest pain as I be-held him for the last time.
I wept as he cried aloud to his heavenly Father, "my God, my God, why have you forsaken me!" Helpless in the face of his torment, but determined to remain, to wait with him, and not to desert him, I wept for him, my son and my Lord.
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