“Mary, please hurry and go check on our new lamb. Your Father will be home soon and will be tired,” Mary’s mother said.
Mary looked up from her sewing. She had hoped to finish the shawl before dinner. It had taken up too much of her time as it was and she was eager to be done with it.
“But, Mother, Joseph may arrive any day, and maybe even tonight as well. What would it look like if he arrived while his betrothed is in the barn with the sheep?” Mary replied.
Mary’s mother lightly blew the broth on the wooden spoon she held close to her mouth. She always made sure the spices were just as her husband liked them.
“If Joseph found his beloved in the barn when he arrives, I’m sure he would think that he is pledged to a woman who is very well rounded and capable of managing all that encompasses a household. He would be pleased.”
Mary smiled. I hope I can maintain a household as well as my mother does, she thought. She stood, folded the shawl and headed out to the barn.
The air was warm and a comforting gentle breeze fanned the scarf on her head. Mary stopped just before going into the barn. She arched her head back and admired the night sky. The moon was high and full. The stars sparkled and seemed to know something she didn’t. She always loved a night as bright as this one.
She opened the barn door and was met with smells of hay and manure. It didn’t bother her though. Such was life. Several sheep lay in the corner of the barn. Mary walked over to them but did not see the lamb.
“Baaa,” came the familiar sound from behind her.
“There, you are little one.” The lamb nuzzled its mama and began to nurse. It was a perfect lamb. A first born to its mother. “Good, I’m glad to see your appetite has picked up. I’ll be able to give a good report to mother and father,” Mary said to the hungry lamb who disregarded her.
Mary surveyed the rest of the barn and concluded all was well. She was just about to leave and took a few steps toward the barn door, but stopped paralyzed and startled. Brilliant light suddenly pierced through every crevice and soon filled the entire barn. It was as if the sun has decided to rise within that very place. Her heart raced and her knees became weak. She felt her knees buckle and give way to the hay on the ground beneath her. A baaing sheep stood next to her head, perhaps frightened as much as Mary was.
“Greetings! You who are highly favored! The Lord is with you,” said a voice from the light.Luke 1:28
The shock of hearing a voice caused Mary to look up. A large man with what looked like wings on his back stood in the midst of the light. His whole being glowed. She lifted her trembling hand to pull back the scarf that had fallen across her face. She was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this could be.
“Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”Luke 1:30-33
The angel’s words were spoken with deep soft comfort and with authority. Mary sat still and thought for a moment and then cast her gaze back to the angel.
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin? “The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”Luke 1:34-37
Upon hearing this, Mary began to weep for deep within her soul she felt the presence of the Holy God with her. The peace and love that filled the very core of her being was like nothing she’d ever known. The pure, sweet feeling of His love was overwhelming yet she never wanted to be separated from this Presence and all she could do was let her tears flow, for words were useless.
Finally, after she felt she could be filled no more with His love for her she responded to the angel.
“I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.”Luke 1:38
In the blink of an eye, the light was gone. But the Lord’s presence remained with Mary. She continued to sit in the hay with head bowed, whispering words of praise and love for God. Tears flowed over her checks and fell unchecked upon her folded hands in her lap. She felt as if a warm blanket had been placed over her shoulders and wrapped her in the Father’s protection. She opened her eyes and looked around. He was with her. The bright visible light was gone, but the light in her heart shone brighter than ever before.
She sat up a little taller now and closed her eyes. Though she could not see Him with physical eyes, she knew the Lord was anointing her. A soothing, slow, flow of unseen oil was being poured upon her head. It started upon the crown of her scarf covered hair and flowed to tip of her toes, and she could feel its comfort.
When at last Mary strode back inside her home, she encountered her mother, father and two brothers just sitting down for the evening meal. She allowed her head scarf to fall forward hoping to hide her tear-stained face. She needed time to process all that had happened and time to figure out how she would explain everything to her family.
“Mary,” exclaimed her mother, “there you are. I was just about to send your brother to check on you. Are you alright?”
“I’m feeling a little weak,” Mary replied. “I just need to go lay down.”
Her mother frowned a mark of concern, and looked toward Mary’s father. He was tired and not paying close attention. She looked back toward Mary. “Okay, I’ll see you after we eat.”
Mary walked to the back room and laid down. How would she ever tell her mother and father? Would they believe her?
See Chapter Two of A Christmas Story: Joseph
Categories: A Christmas Story