Two days before Christmas seems like the perfect moment for a modern day lesson from Mother Mary, don’t you think? I mean, not to add pressure to the season, but we are in the last Holiday Season of the DECADE.
Traditionally, this time of year is full of anticipation and excitement, which means it is equally full of anxiety and expectations. The barrage of, “The Best Of Lists” have us looking backwards, while the new year, and new decade have us looking ahead. All too often all the looking around causes us to miss being present, in the now.
In the spirit of the season I’d like to look at Mary, the mother of Jesus. I believe all these years later Mary is still teaching and revealing herself to us. While remembering the Christmas story, we’ll see there is a modern day lesson from Mother Mary. Let’s look.
A Modern Day Lesson From Mother Mary
We know Mary was a young woman. In fact, scholars tell us she was most likely between the ages of twelve and fourteen years old when she was betrothed to Joseph. Can you imagine a fourteen year old, young and naive, coming to grips with her new life role?
Of course we know the situation went to another level when she was visited by an angel and told she would conceive a baby with the Holy Spirit. The child’s name would be Jesus. Looking at this from a historical context we know women could be stoned to death for such things.
Needless to say, Mary was facing a bit of social pressure.
Do you think she endured judgmental murmurings of those she prayed and worked beside? We haven’t even looked at the self imposed pressure she must have felt knowing the conversation she would need to have with Joseph.
Joseph’s occupation, a carpenter, tells us a lot about him as a man. I imagine he was thorough, and thoughtful, measuring twice and cutting once. Being honest, proud and satisfied with a job well done seems like fitting character traits for Joseph the carpenter. And now, betrothed and pregnant, Mary needed covering and guidance. Joseph was just the man for the journey.
Social pressures weren’t the only pressures on the horizon. Political pressures of the day also loomed large for this seemingly mismatched couple. A trek needed to be made for them to be counted as a family in the year of the census. It wasn’t a situation where Joseph could just run into town for a few nights and take care of business, while Mary nested and took it easy during her pregnancy. No, in order to perform their civic duty they had to pack up and set off to an unfamiliar land.
Now we see, Mary is forced to endure travel pressure. Can you imagine? Being pregnant is hard enough, but enduring the dust and the smell of traveling during the day, and the cold and uncomfortableness of the night, seems unbearable.
The Kindness of Strangers
Once in the city travel issues increased for the couple. The story tells us there was no room for them at the Inn. Mary and Joseph found themselves alone, without shelter, in a land far from home. Thankfully, the innkeeper, was an open minded forward thinking person who offered the barn to Mary and Joseph. At least they would have shelter while she delivered the baby. If not for this simple act of kindness Mary could have very well delivered in the street or somewhere even less safe.
Eventually, the shepherds arrived, retelling the story of an angel visiting them as they watched over their sheep in the fields. Mary now had guests she hadn’t expected.
Let’s recap, Mary, a new teen mother just delivered a baby in an environment where she’s not familiar and is now entertaining guests. Privacy was not an attainable amenity as they were in a barn. I realize nativity scenes depict a Holy moment, but more likely than not, patrons of the Inn were coming and going. In the spirit of being real, I want to point out, the moment had to have been loud, dirty, smelly and crowded.
Mary, The Mother Mary
While chaos whirled around Mary and her new peculiar child, she did an amazing and mature thing. Mary looked around and purposefully took in all that was happening. The Bible says, “Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.”
What a beautiful gift she gave herself. Instead of getting caught up in the drama or the hype of the moment, she took inventory. I believe she was grateful. There must have been moments when she wondered what all of this meant for Jesus, for herself, and for the future. The thing is, in order to savor a moment we must be present. Mary wanted to remember the moment.
It may be hard to imagine now, but one day, the sounds of your children laughing and bickering from other rooms in your house, may not occur as often. Children grow, become adults and begin their own families. My heart fills with joy knowing my children are living their own lives, beginning their own traditions. That’s the way it should be. I couldn’t be prouder.
May I offer a suggestion during this last Holiday season of the decade? While you’re fighting traffic, deadlines, extra relatives and lost packages, remember Mother Mary and her modern day lesson to us. Whatever circumstances you are facing remember to look around, and revel in the chaos. Mother Mary found a way to ponder it all and keep it in her heart and we can too.
Be you…be beautiful…be imperfect.