The other night my husband and I watched The Nativity. It got me thinking again about what it must have been like for Mary to carry the Savior in her womb. Being pregnant this Christmas has made me see her story in a new light.
I wonder, when she said yes to the angel, if she knew all that it would bring. I certainly didn’t, when my husband asked me, “Do you want to have a baby?” and I said “sure!” Oh, I’d heard about pregnancy from other women, and so had Mary, probably. She was with Elizabeth for part of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, and the movie shows Mary’s fear and wonder as Elizabeth gives birth to baby John. Yet that scarcely prepares you for going through it yourself or for the unique experience that every woman has in carrying a baby.
And while I carry my baby supported by family and friends, Mary had to deal with a husband who considered divorcing her for unfaithfulness and a society that thought she’d been immoral. In the movie, even her family questions her story. I wonder if Mary herself had doubts about what the angel said, in the first few weeks when there wasn’t any sign of the new life growing inside her. And yet soon enough she would know, and so would everyone else… and that could mean her death.
Part of me marvels at God’s trust in placing His only beloved Son in virgin’s womb. At times I have felt overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for and protecting this tiny person inside me, but I’m married and don’t live in a society that stones unwed mothers. Did Mary think of that when she said yes to the angel? Or did it occur to her later? And yet God knew that the man He had chosen for her would take care of her and her Son, would save her from the stones of her neighbors, though likely not from their gossiping.
And then, just before her baby’s birth, to have to travel a long distance because of an emperor’s decree… to leave behind all the women who could help her through her labor and go with a husband she perhaps barely knew to a city she’d never seen before… I marvel at her courage, her simple acceptance of everything thrown at her, the faith that must have carried her through those days. I have the choice of a hospital fifteen minutes away or one half an hour away; a midwife or a doctor; all that modern medical care can offer; but Mary just had herself, her husband, and a few cows in a stable. Was she scared? Was she nervous? Or did she just trust God?
So this Christmas I muse on an old, familiar story, one that I’ve heard so many times over in my growing up years… and yet one that has become new and fresh again this year and still has the power to make me ponder, as Mary did, everything that happened.