Last night when sleep taunted me from the sidelines, I was surprised by my mind filled with images of Jesus’ mother, Mary.
Are you like me? All your life hearing about the Christmas story Mary—recognizing her in pictures in a cerulean-blue robe, her face calm and serene as she gazes on the bundle in her arms. That’s the way I thought of her, and then, like most Protestant-reared, ceased to think much about her.
Suddenly, she’s looking me in the face, challenging me to ask questions, find answers. So I did what one better do—on the coldest night of our year, get out of bed, grab two versions of the Bible, and read.
Sometimes when reading a familiar story you see something new. For the first time, in neon lights, I saw a thirteen-year-old girl leaving her family home, hiking for two and a half days to her cousin’s house. Who knows when Mary conceived? Perhaps when she was in the hilly wilderness area—when she had time to commune—to praise her God?
Three months later, she’s retracing her steps, hands over her stomach, smiling in contentment in that growing life. A fast marriage and she goes to Joseph’s house to sleep apart and cook and clean. Couldn’t call it a home, but again, she caresses the life in her. “My Jesus, you are with me. I am content.”
With birth imminent, our thirteen-year old and her unborn baby bounce for four days on a donkey-ride to Bethlehem. Can’t you see her placing her arms under him, shielding him from the jolts? Camping at night she talks and croons to him and looks up at the stars in total wonder about this privilege. Joseph, perhaps still not clear on what’s happening, keeps a distance. It’s just Mary and Jesus.
We can read the rest of the story. What we don’t read is how in Bethlehem, Joseph leaves the stable to find another place for them to stay. Mary and her new baby are alone in the stable. This isn’t in the Bible, but I am certain Mary looked down at the swaddled sweetness so recently living in her and said, “We may not find a home. We may always be on the move. But you are my heart. Where you are, I am home.”
This Christmas, may Jesus be your heart. Because where your heart is— is home.
Please tell me how you see Mary? Has your thinking changed?