Tidings in the last few hours before Christmas, this long night before my Messiah was born. I often think of Mary and the request made of her by God. Pain and fear are relative and in modernity, far different creatures than in Bethlehem 2010 years ago. My labor and deliveries were both in sterile hospitals. I got pain medication. I was safe. I had a home, a true roof over my head. The baby boys laid in my arms each time had a vast future, full of endless opportunities and promise. Mary’s baby had a life pre-drawn. As she walked with his form growing inside her; she knew of God’s plan for her and her child. Yet, with more courage than imaginable, she continued. And she labored this long night, in a barn with the other stabled animals. She had to be full of fear and her pain was both physical, as every birthing mother knows, but also spiritual. With the birth of her child, her joy was conjoined to her mourning; her heavenly gift also her greatest sacrifice.
By sheer serendipity, my wonderous friend Janis posted a sermon on her blog tonight. The message flowed from the same vein as my own personal contemplations. Mary’s joy, the Light of the World, born this Christmas morning. Jesus comes into the world and brings redemption and salvation. The B side of that joy is the pain and the fear that both Mary and Joseph must have quietly known. Did they speak of their son? Could they see his brutal future? They had to feel so isolated and alone. They were isolated and alone.
So many of us are alone at Christmas. We are separated from family by distance or pride or death. People we love and hold dear in our hearts are far away, even when they are mere miles down the road. It is good to remember that Christmas is more than a day. Christmas is not the concrete calendar event of December 25th. Christmas is the birth of Christ in this world. His love, his sacrifice, his promise of redemption is amplified through Christmas. Like a beacon or a nodal resonance, each year, we are returned to this place of joy and hope. And we are renewed. Redemption is not instantaneous. It asks that we live every day in the Christmas spirit, acknowledging our pain and fear and welcoming the hope and joy.
Merry Christmas Everyone! It is a good night, a silent night, a holy night. Peace to all.