3. Mary

3.  Mary

(Warning: In this little series of  ‘meditations’ there are simply wonderings about what actually some of the people in the Christmas story felt. They are obviously based on Scripture but they are only wonderings, for we do not know. Yet, if they help us really think into the wonder of what happened two thousand years ago at the time we call Christmas, that will be good.)

The young girl sat uncomfortably on the donkey as it trudged along the road. It was starting to get dark. A strong hand reached out and covered hers as she held on.

“It’s all right, it won’t be much longer now,” Joseph’s reassuring voice reached out through the gloom.

“That’s what I’m afraid of,” she replied, mustering a smile to go with the words.

“No, I meant we’re almost at Bethlehem. That was Jerusalem on the hills we passed nearly an hour back, so we must almost be at Bethlehem soon.”

As the donkey plodded on, for the umpteenth time she asked herself, “Why did I say those fateful words? Why ever did I say, ‘I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.’? What was I thinking? I am only a thirteen year old girl! How could I have been so presumptuous? But was it? Wasn’t I just being obedient to God’s call? I really didn’t have a clue what he meant. It just seemed right to say it. I know he said that the Holy Spirit would come upon me so the one to be born would be called God’s Son, but I thought that meant after Joseph and I were married. And then I started feeling sick in the morning and it became obvious that I was pregnant – and I hadn’t been anywhere near Joseph, but how could I expect anyone to believe that?”

The evening got darker and the road ahead became more difficult to see. If it wasn’t for the other travellers they might have wandered off it, but they followed the trail of people who were obviously travelling in the same direction as them. She glanced down at the strong young man who walked wearily alongside her. She thought back to those early months, to that awful moment when she told him she was carrying God’s baby. He had simply turned red and then turned away without a word. She had let him go. It was understandable. How could he understand what she hardly understood herself. She hadn’t seen him for several days and when he came back he came with a gentleness and words of reassurance that made her weep. Suddenly she realised how alone she had felt for those days, unable to say anything to anyone, and abandoned. It wasn’t her fault! God, why don’t you tell someone to help me?

And then Joseph came with the gentle smile and the story of the incredibly vivid dream that he had received from God.

And then came this stupid edict from the emperor! Why do we have to be ruled over by these Romans? Aren’t we God’s people? Why should God allow this selfish and proud emperor to upset our lives? Go and be counted at the family town! What are we, cattle, that we get herded here and there by these beastly Roman soldiers! It’s unfair! God, where are you?

Just as they spied the first lights of Bethlehem, the strident voice of the rabbi back home, echoed in the back of her mind. It was the last time she visited the synagogue on the Sabbath, as he read out from the scrolls the prophecy of Micah, But you, Bethlehem, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

What had her angel said to her that fateful night, “You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” He will be a ruler, a ruler who will come from Bethlehem! God planned this! Did God stir that stupid emperor to make sure we got here for my child to be born or did God just know that he would do this and make us be here?

She broke out of her reverie and realised that they were entering the outskirts of the town. As they drew alongside an Inn, the first contraction pain hit her.

Passages covered by the story above are Lk 1:31-33,38, 2:1-7, Matthew 1:18-21, Micah 5:2

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