Mary’s Inconvenient Christmas
December 20, 2020
We tend to gauge a person’s love for and interest in us by the attention they give to or sacrifices they make for us. When they seem to show neither, we feel unloved, even unwanted. So its unsurprising that the challenges of 2020 have left many questioning God’s presence and love for them. But the Christmas story, seen through Mary’s eyes, shows the constancy of God’s love and presence and how some of his most extraordinary gifts come wrapped in inconveniences and challenges.
Gabriel’s glad tidings came to Mary at a rather inconvenient time. When Joseph, her fiancé, found out she was pregnant, he predictably wanted out of the relationship. It took an angelic visitation in a dream to persuade him that Mary had not been unfaithful and he should still marry her. That was hardly how the couple imagined the beginning of their marriage.
The baby was then born at an inconvenient time. A Roman census was underway and Joseph and Mary travelled to Bethlehem to register. While there, Mary gave birth, but the crowded town had no room, so she wrapped her baby boy in swaddling cloths (not the soft sky-blue blanket kind) and laid him in an animal’s feeding trough. The surroundings had neither the charm of a rustic cabin nor cute fluffy white lambs standing by, just dirt. This was hardly how Mary imagined welcoming her first born into the world.
To top it off, the young couple had to flee to Egypt because King Herod wanted to kill their baby. They ended up spending the first two years of their marriage as refugees. This was hardly how the couple imagined their honeymoon.
But God was involved in every inconvenient detail. He oversaw the birth of Jesus to ensure that it happened just as prophesied hundreds of years earlier. God made sure Mary was engaged to an upright and kind man who was not only in David’s lineage, but one who also loved God enough to obey him in difficult circumstances.
Throughout the story, angels are found running heaven’s errands, making announcements, giving warnings and direction. Baby John leapt in Elizabeth’s womb at Mary’s coming and Anna and Simeon, two elderly prophets, spoke over the child at his presentation at the temple, confirming his uniqueness. A bright unusual star led the magi to the child, and the gifts they brought warmed Mary’s heart reminding her that despite her ordeal she was still blessed. She alone would ever be called the mother of Jesus Christ.
Like Mary, we need not ever wonder about God’s love or presence in our troubled times. He settled those concerns when he chose to experience and identify with the hardships of common humanity that first beautiful, inconvenient Christmas.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
“…the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.” -Mary (Lk. 1:49)