Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Girl Talk

                And the sky was bright with a holy light, twas the birthday of a king....

Preface:  In the same way I stand transformed at the cross of Jesus and the unthinkable rejection and agony he suffered for me, I am also transformed by the incarnation--God of all creation born as a helpless baby.  The very thing we as humans long for, the splendor and glory of the heavenly realm, our Savior readily gave up to become an infinitesimal speck of life in Mary's dark womb.  It is truly the greatest story every told.  At the onset of Mary's pregnancy, she visited her older cousin Elizabeth.  They both had miraculous conceptions and were told their babies would be extraordinary. Imagine all the girl talk that must have taken place about their amazing circumstances.

Elizabeth shares details of Mary's visit to her home:

"Mary danced across our threshold.  Even after several days of mountainous travel, her lovely dark eyes sparkled and she was full of smiles as she greeted us.  Her tunic was tattered and dusty and her sandals were worn thin.  Stones and thorns along the way had etched deep scratches into her feet, but Mary didn't seem to notice as she moved about lightly with the ease of youth.  My little cousin was accustomed to trekking up and down narrow hillside footpaths because of her usual daily duties of tending sheep or carrying water.

"And now she was carrying greatness, the only Son of God, supernaturally conceived by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit.  I was also with child, miraculously conceiving in my old age.  To say I was delighted to be pregnant would be an understatement after spending many barren years of disappointment and enduring disgrace by society because I couldn't bear a child.

"When the babe in my womb heard the sound of Mary's voice, he leaped with joy, just as though he knew his Lord had entered our home!  Exhilarated, I responded:  'Blessed are you among women and blessed is the child you will bare!  Why am I so favored that the mother of my Lord should come to me?'  We hugged, holding onto each other.  Mary, unable to contain her excitement, burst into song, glorifying God.  She was thrilled that she had been chosen to be the mother of Messiah--the longstanding dream of every young Jewish girl.

"Over the next three months, it became clear exactly why Mary came to visit me.  In spite of our age difference, we had much in common.  We spent the days, then lighting candles and staying up late into the nights, chatting and sharing--wonderful girl talk--about everything.  There were so many things to discuss and compare.  We were both bearing our firstborn child.  We both knew in advance we would have sons and even knew their names would be John and Jesus.  We shared the same angel messenger, Gabriel, who told us our sons would be great men.  We pondered the angel's words and wondered what it would be like for Mary to be mother of the Son of the Most High.  We mused over how John would turn hearts back to God, preparing the way for Mary's son, Jesus.  We wept as we realized that I, because of my age, would probably not live to see all this come about.

"And we shared apprehension of the birth process, having seen many a sister deliver a bundle of wrinkled newborn flesh, encircled by women, supporting and soothing the moaning mother.  Women's work, it's called, while the men sit in silence in the courtyard.  Little did we know that Mary would have to bring her baby into the world in unfamiliar and crude surroundings, without feminine support, and with only Joseph at her side.

"Toward the end of her stay, my long anticipated boy was born as expected, with family and neighbors sharing in the festivities.  Oh, and I should mention my husband, Zechariah, a priest, who was struck dumb by the angel Gabriel prior to my pregnancy, finally spoke again.  His inability to communicate gave Mary and me a lot of time to spend together, since I couldn't talk to him.  Zechariah was about to explode when he finally got his voice back.  He then prophesied more wondrous things about John and Jesus.

"John's birth was an answer to the prayer we had prayed for years for my barren state to be lifted.  But Gabriel said it would also strengthen Mary, showing her that nothing is impossible with God.  She returned home refreshed and ready to face potential cruel slander by her neighbors and dismay of her family as it became obvious that she had become with child prior to marriage.  She was sure, with her loving Joseph by her side, that everything would be OK.

"Six months later, Mary bore her holy infant in the most humble of circumstances, unnoticed by the rest of the world.  But in celestial realms, the day of Jesus' birth was cause for jubilant celebration!  Shepherds in a nearby field described how the heavens opened and an angel appeared in a blaze of glory, terrifying them. They said the angel reassured them saying:  "Don't be afraid.  I bring you good news of great joy for everyone!  Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is Messiah and Lord!"  The shepherds recounted how suddenly a massive angelic choir appeared around the angel.  Their song rippled thunderously through the countryside as they praised God in the highest, proclaiming peace on earth.  Heaven erupted in joy that day; Earth had finally received her King!

"Sharing our souls, our hearts, our hopes and dreams as moms-to-be, Mary and I formed a deep and powerful bond during her visit that will remain with us forever.

Luke 1:5-80 
Photo caption from song The Birthday of a King by William Harold Neidlinger
                                                                               (c) Joyce Catherwood 2010