Christmas—The Expectant Child
What’s not to like about Christmas? The season of tinsel, glitter, gifts, and family—right? Well, for many, the truth is that Christmas is a season of heartbreak, loss, and loneliness. I’ve got a friend who lost a child right before Christmas; and in my own family, my father passed away a week before Christmas. It’s hard to celebrate in the midst of loss.
Sometimes, the way we portray the Christmas season doesn’t help either. The warm glow of a bright star, with shepherds, wise men, Mary, and Joseph surrounding a cherub infant can speak of the perfect holiday season.
But it wasn’t.
Mary was considered an adulteress. Her husband-to-be considered her unfaithful. Her family was stunned. By law, she could have been stoned to death, and Joseph could have divorced her. Her reputation was in tatters, and the small village in which she lived could only produce mockery upon her, her baby, and Joseph.
Things were at rock bottom.
It was utterly depressing.
All seemed hopeless. There was a small smidgeon of hope: She was supposed to be carrying the Messiah—if she dared believe it.
Likely to rid herself of the taunts, she fled—to another town, to her cousin Elizabeth. Elizabeth was herself the surprise recipient of a baby in her womb. After years of infertility and its own shame, Elizabeth had her own child.
Two unlikely souls could unite in some comfort for one another. As the miles slipped away from her little village, Mary’s burden could ease some. Time and distance can provide a salve to the wounds of the soul. The miles provided time to ponder the words of the angel and the child of promise she carried. What kind of child was she carrying?!
As God is so inclined to do, he gave Mary her answer. Upon entering her village, Elizabeth’s greeting must’ve seemed like a thousand affirmations:
“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Luke 1.42-45
Elizabeth’s child, who would soon be named John, leapt for joy to meet the Messiah child in Mary. John, like the entire waiting world, was looking forward to the coming Messiah.
While Mary would still have to return home to the stares of her village, she would do so with the certainty of a greater hope residing in her. How we all need to be reminded of this greater hope day by day!