Imagine with me—2,000 years ago, two young people, there in a stable in the ancient town of Bethlehem.
It’s a chilly night in the Mediterranean region, and the temperatures are in the high forties, something probably most welcome to the very pregnant teenager feeling the first pangs of contractions. In spite of the chill, her husband dabs at her sweaty brow and tries to reassure her everything will be OK.
As for the Mother of God, Mary, I imagine she just closes her eyes, tells herself to breathe, reminds herself countless woman across the ages have done just this—birth a baby on their own in rough circumstances—and she will, too.
Perhaps she remembers the words of the angel Gabriel, back at home in Nazareth, that she is “highly favored,” that her child will be “great” and “the Son of the Most High,” that he will “reign over Jacob’s descendants forever.”
Jesus, the angel told her to name the child.
Perhaps she clasps the hand of her husband, Joseph, a man to whom she is married but who has never dared to know her intimately, as a husband knows his wife, in honor and deference to the child she is carrying.
The child of God Himself.
I imagine Joseph squeezes her hand in return. You’ve got this, his liquid brown eyes tell her.
Her own eyes fill with tears in return. It hurts.
But she has a job to do: Give birth to the son of God.
And so she does, there in that stable, Joseph by her side.
I’m certain the animals know what is happening. They understand what so many learned, knowledgeable men would not: Greatness is in their midst. God is there with them in that stable.
I see them, the cattle, quiet and bowing in reverence.
Perhaps Mary bows, too—perhaps, exhausted from labor, she gathers her skirts around her and scoots as close to that manger as she possibly can sit. She rests her head on that cradle and looks her son—and her King—in the eye.
You are here.
She remembers the words of her relative, Elizabeth, all those months ago: Why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
And Mary wonders: Why me? Me, of all women? How did I, among all women everywhere, receive such a blessing, to birth the child of the Lord?
I see her stroke the child’s head there in the chilly night, gazing as if into his soul.
I will care for you, love you, and protect you as best as I can, she vows wordlessly, as all mothers do.
And then the night’s sky lights up as the North Star beams its spotlight upon them all.
The child of God, born as a man, is here to show us all the Way.
Merry Christmas, friends. May your hearts glow with the light of Christ as you celebrate His birth today…and always.