Bev Murrill looks at the true Christmas story
She was not completely alone. She had her husband with her and those animals that shuffled and sighed heavily in the night. Even so, Mary felt lonely and vulnerable. This awesome event should have been attended by village women whom she'd known all her life, bustling noisily about busy with the activities that only women understand. What a stark difference between her girlhood expectations and how things had turned out. There was no one with her who could tell her what to expect and encourage her that the strange and painful things happening were normal and that she was safe in the midst of this unknown experience. She knew that so many other women had faced this before her but how she wished her mum was here. She felt somehow that having with her the one who had delivered her into the world would make everything a little more familiar...a little less alien.
Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and His name shall be called Emmanuel,
which means 'God with us'. (Matthew 1:23)
Yet here she was, alone, except for the man whose courage and closeness to God had caused him to make the socially unacceptable and life changing choice to believe her story. He was the one who was labouring with her in his own way, striving to help her in a task unknown and alien to both of them. The familiar farmyard smells were foreign to this endeavour, yet they laboured together and the strangeness of their environment faded into the background as the work at hand intensified and the heat of the labour reached its climax.
And then...there He was, all bright and red and beautiful. His hands, His feet...all there, all as it should be. She'd known it would be this way, but there had still been times when she had wondered what she could expect when this invader of her womb, this God dwelling with man, was finally seen. And now she lay, the infant silently suckling, while the man that God had chosen to help and strengthen her moved quietly around the stable bringing order and peace.
Softly, gently, with a sense of awe and wonder that those who love Him still experience, she touched His face.
Like all of us, Mary only had her own background from which to draw her understanding of God. She knew what He used to be to His people, she was so familiar with the history and the law and the legends, but this was the beginning of a new era. With the birth of her Son, a new covenant had begun, though she had no more idea than anyone else what that would look like.
How could she know yet that this Son was born to die? How could she understand the depth to which God had given Himself in the person of His only Son, so that all mankind, including her, could be free from the chains of sin; of sinning and being sinned against?
Only God can set His people free. Only humanity can be the expression of that. This God/man who lay in her arms was the fullness of everything the Creator intended for those He loved. The world was changed irrevocably from this day forward, though she knew not how.
With amazement and wonder, Mary reached out her hand, sure and without a tremor, to touch the face of her God.
Let me encourage you while this season breaks open all around us, to reach out past the presents and the pressures, the decorations and the depression, the hopes and fears. Emanuel, God with us, welcomes each one of us to do what Mary did, just reach out and touch Him. He's closer than you think.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
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