Beautiful, isn’t it? The whole Christmas story, the promised Messiah sent to earth – vulnerable, tiny…and human.
Sent as a visible gift, offered freely to anyone who will accept Him, changing lives, promising ultimate peace…
But let’s consider His coming from Mary’s point of view – this girl was unmarried. She was engaged to a man, but expecting a child.
And the child was not his.
Ok, this story would raise eyebrows in even our progressive society, but in Bible times? Yeah.
I know that, for me, it’s easy to gloss over this part. Mary was expecting the Savior, she had a long journey, and at the end Jesus came and everything was a-ok.
So. Let’s put this in our terminology. Here’s the Christmas story, modern-day style…
Whispers, heavy with innuendo and spite, hiss around the church auditorium. Fingers point furtively at a slender girl, sitting with her parents, her head bowed, and long hair hanging over her face.
You wanna get in on the scoop.
“What’s up?” you whisper to your best friend, who is whispering furiously in another girl’s ear.
Her eyes widen, and a smirk crosses her lips. “You mean you haven’t heard?” Pointing carelessly to the slender girl, she whispers in your ear, “You know Mary? The one my mom asks constantly why I can’t be more like?”
“Yeah. She’s pregnant.”
Your mouth drops open in shock. This is Mary, the one who is friends with everyone in the youth group, who sings in the choir, who is sweet, kind, and generous to a fault. The one everyone loves to hate, because she is stinkin’ perfect.
Your eyes swivel around, looking for one specific face. “Who’s the father?” you whisper back to your friend, already knowing the only logical answer.
If possible, your friend’s smirk widens. “It’s not Joe’s,” she whispers, with obvious relish. She points at the opposite end of the auditorium, where a young man sits, shoulders tight, jaw clenched, knuckles pure white in his lap.
Eyes wide, mouth open, you look back and forth between the two actors in this tragedy – just two kids, really.
“Dude.” You finally say.
“Yeah. And you know the best part?”
You stare at her in bewilderment.
“She’s swears she’s pregnant by an angel.”
Speechless, you stare into the distance, scrabbling for any explanation that makes the slightest bit of sense.
Your best friend nods sagely. “Guess mom will be off my case now, huh?”
Can you imagine the questions and scorn? Even worse, the unspoken judgement staring at you from every face, young and old. The man you love and have been faithful to thinks you cheated on him. While you were engaged. Your parents have no clue what to do with you.
And all you can say is that you are pregnant. By the Holy Spirit of God. With the Messiah. Your only consolation is that God has finally spoken to Joe, and he now believes and supports your wild story.
Finally, you can’t take it anymore. You go to visit your cousin, your best (and now you fear only) friend, since childhood. You live with her for most of your pregnancy.
Then, an announcement is made – all people must travel to Washington, D.C., the capital of the government, to be taxed and and counted. You travel back home, and Joe meets you at your door.
His warm eyes take in your huge belly, and he smiles gently. “Travel with me – as my promised wife.”
You start to stutter a negative response, but he holds up a hand. “You will be safe with me…I will cherish your status as a pure woman, and we shall save ourselves ’til you have the child.”
His eyes widen. “Our child. The Messiah,” he breathes in wonder.
You are both poor, but somehow you rig up a mode of transportation. And the journey begins.
Days merge in nights, and nights into days. Dazed and hurting, you lie huddled in the back seat, while Joe drives as fast as he can.
Finally, you arrive. The night is inky and silent. No one is moving – it has to be at least 3 a.m.
Joe trys one hotel after another, but the entire city is packed, filled to the breaking point.
Suddenly, your pains start. Trying to moan quietly, you nevertheless attract Joe’s attention. His eyes fill with a silent pain.
“I’m so sorry, Mary,” he whispers. “I can’t find anywhere to go.”
The still night is shattered by a hoarse voice. “Hey, buddy! Can you keep it down over there?”
Joe whirls. You are parked in front of a filthy alley, a large dumpster the only adornment. A shaggy head peeks out from under a tattered blanket, haphazardly thrown over the dumpster to create a sagging tent. The head seems to study you, then utters a loud sigh.
“Got nowhere to go, huh?”
Joe nods. “We’re going to keep looking though.”
Bleary eyes squint at you. “Girl’s pregnant, huh? Can’t be hauling her all over creation.”
Joe squares his shoulders. “I have no choice.”
Silence. You start to leave, wearily, slowly. A cracked voice stops you.
“Okay, listen. I got no room here. But just down the alley there? There’s an old lady. Always got room for strays. She’ll help ya. Second blanket down, red patches.”
Joe faces you, a silent plea in his face. “Mary…”
“It’s all right,” you say. “It’s all right.”
And it was all right. Hours later, you held the King of the Universe in your arms.
“And she brough forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”