On reading the familiar Christmas passages of Scripture this year I’ve found myself drawn to the story of Mary. Mary begins her life-changing journey as a normal young woman, excited and in love with a loving and gentle man, her future all laid out before her: ordered, planned, normal. Then Gabriel came to visit her with the message that she was to be the mother of the Messiah. Her nice, ordered, normal life was immediately thrown into a life of chaos, uncertainty, danger, fear and shame.
Those ensuing months must have been incredibly difficult for Mary - the shame and disgrace she carried, the fear for her life (the law was clear about fornication), the uncertainties, the constant words spoken against her, the lost friends and family who turned their back on her. It must have been almost unbearable.
Having spent several months in the turmoil of gossip and speculation, Mary, heavily pregnant, had to travel to Bethlehem where Jesus was eventually born in a hastily made up nursery of straw in a manger. The relentless turmoil continued – encouragement from the shepherds and the Magi, but then the news of Herod wanting to kill her new-born son and having to flee to a foreign land. The conflict between the knowledge that Mary carried in her heart and the harsh reality of life as the Messiah’s mother was immense.
Yet this is what Jesus was born into; a world of turmoil, danger, fear, conflict, shame and yet a world where the truth stood fast in the heart of His mother. Thus, as a little baby, He was kept safe and well.
Today’s Scripture is the key to how Mary coped with such external strife. Each offer of support, encouragement or confirmation, was stored up as a treasure in her heart. It was to be a constant resource of strength. Such words carried her through to the bitter end, when she had to endure watching her son die the cruellest of deaths.
This Christmas time, may we all learn a lesson from Mary; treasuring up the words of the truth of the Gospel in our hearts, pondering on them, so that they can strengthen us in the most dire of times. Let’s keep our eyes fixed on Him who is the truth, born into our world, experiencing our human vulnerabilities and conflicts of heart and reality. Let’s remain unwavering from what we know in our hearts to be the truth.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for coming into this world to save us. May we learn to treasure the truth of who You are, so we remain steadfast, despite the raging turmoil that surrounds us. Amen.
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