Being pregnant over the Advent and Christmas season with all three of our daughters has given me a new appreciation of what Mary went through in the Nativity story. It’s an old story, one that most of us are quite familiar with. I’d heard it every Christmas growing up so I kinda stopped thinking about it. Yep, an angel appeared to Mary and then to Joseph, yep, they packed up and got on a donkey and headed for Bethlehem—
Wait a minute. Mary was quite pregnant and got on a donkey??? She just up and left her hometown to head to a completely strange new place before she had her first baby??? I’m not sure I could have done that.
Before I had Sunshine, I had so many questions about what to expect because I’d heard so many different birthing stories. One friend of mine had a forty-hour labour; another a forty-minute labour. As I listened to the Nativity story that year, I began to appreciate the trust which Mary showed in following her new husband to Bethlehem.
“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” ~Luke 2:4-7 NIV
Two Christmases later, when I was pregnant with Lily, I again found myself looking anew at Mary’s story. This time, I felt like I sort of knew what to expect during labour—except that I wasn’t happy with my doctor / hospital situation. Local policies meant that I couldn’t give birth with the doctor whom I liked and trusted in the hospital two blocks away from our home; I had to drive twenty minutes over to the next town to give birth with a doctor whom I’d barely met and didn’t like. Once again, I thought about Mary.
The Nativity story, like so many other Bible stories, feels like a plot outline. They went here, did this; he said this, she said that, angels sang. With the perspective of motherhood, I began to think more about what Mary thought and felt during that time.
Pregnancy, more than anything else, brought me close to Mary and to an appreciation of her intercession for us. She who had faced so much stress and uncertainty during her pregnancy and birth knew what I was going through and could ask Jesus to give me the grace and strength I needed to face it.
This Christmas, as we face a move to a new town like Mary and Joseph, I’m contemplating the trust which she showed during that time of her life. Trust not only in God, to whom she had said “Yes,” but also in Joseph. God spoke to her through the angel Gabriel when He told her she would conceive His son; after that, He spoke to Joseph, telling Joseph where to go and how to keep Mary and baby Jesus safe. Mary had to trust Joseph when they left Nazareth for Bethlehem, and later when they left Bethlehem for Egypt.
So this Advent season, as I face the uncertainty of a move and a new city, I pray I will learn to trust God and my husband just as Mary did.
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