Saturday, December 24, 2005

Mary, Did You Know?

One of my members sent me this email. Thought I'd pass it on. Merry Christmas. By the way, this photo above is the one she mentions.

Hi Pastor Glenn:

Something I saw last Sunday as you were preaching made me think. And yes, I was paying attention to you. It just sort of hit me in a milli-second. I thought about it more later, and wrote the following.

The choir sang our Christmas program this morning at both services. Up on the screen behind us at the second service was projected a picture of Mary holding her baby, Jesus. It was a nice, soft focused, comfortable picture, but I wonder what Mary really felt as she held that baby in her arms. She had heard the prophecies of how He would save His people from thier sins. She had been told that He was the Son of God. Did she have any idea about some of the suffering He was destined for?

It was night when He was born. Maybe it was cold. They were in a cave-stable with smelly animals. Did Mary suffer a long, hard labor there? Who helper her? Only Joseph? Or did she have a midwife from the town, Bethlehem? Was there water available to wash the baby and herself afterward? She must have been frightened. I was very scared when my son was born. I'd never felt that much pain for that long. But I sort of knew what to expect. I was in a clean hospital with four or five nurses and a doctor nearby. She was a very young girl, almost alone, in a stable.

When she held her son for the first time and wrapped him in blankets, she must have felt that rush of overwhelming tenderness new mom's feel for the tiny thing in their arms. She probably offered Him her breast. He must have, like all newborns, sought it out with his tiny eyes blinking and his mouth opening, head turning towards his mother and rutting around with little whimpering cries.In that tiny, new body lay the eternal King of Kings. God in flesh. Did He know, even from inside His mother's womb, who He was? As He first saw his mother's smile and drank from her, did He think about the heaven He had left? Or, like all babies, did His little brain start from scratch, learning how to coordinate chubby fingers, smiling with a baby's total focus at His mother, and later reaching for anything in sight to shove in His mouth to soothe the pain of new little teeth?

Most of us have heard His birth story so many times that we don't think about the details that can mean so much. He lived. In a body just like ours. He probably skinned His toe or His knee as a boy while running with his friends. Around age two or three, maybe He asked His mother 'why' at least 50 times each day. And yet, He must have known, at least in an unconsious heart way, that He was created for something much more important than your average capenters' son.

We have a big advantage over Mary today. Hindsight. We get to see the big picture of His life. We know about His birth, His teachings, His death and resurrection, His disciples and their faithfulness to the end. In another way, Mary has a big advantage over us. She actually got to hold Him in her arms. There's no way Mary can come forward in time to share with us the gift of the Bible. But is there a way we can go back and share with her the gift of that little boy?If God sends His spirit, anyone who asks can hold that little baby in their arms today. We can hear Him speak words of amazing wisdom, even as a boy, and treasure them in our hearts, just like Mary did. We may not understand everything He says and does. Mary didn't. But we can love Him deeply all the same because He's been give to us, just like he was to Mary, to love and cherish. We can see Him scourged and hanging on a cross, and our heart can break with unbearable grief for Him. We can see Him standing in the upper room, holes in His hands and feet, declaring His victory over death and sin, and our hearts can swell with unbearable joy and glory for this son who really is not only our son or brother, but also our Lord and our God. What mother wouldn't sacrifice her life for her child if it could protect Him from harm? We can hold that tiny Christ child in our hearts, and know without a doubt that as he sacrificed His life for us, we will sacrifice anything for Him.Today, this Christmas day, hold that little baby in your arms. Feel His body be broken for you, and like Mary did, give your life to protect that precious treasure you hold inside.

--L. R.

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