Funny how we sing Christmas songs and never really give thought to the words.
Like “Silent Night.”
Like “all is calm, all is bright”.
Here’s a beautiful version of the song.
(For the story behind the writing of this poem-turned-into-song can be found here.)
There was nothing calm about the circumstances in which Jesus was born. Political unrest was rampant as the Jews were being over-taxed and harassed. Religious people back then were looked at with as much disdain and skepticism as they are today.
There was nothing easy about the journey of Mary and Joseph. The countryside was dotted with thieves and various other criminals. It was a dangerous journey over rough terrain.
I always think about that journey and wonder if in the evening when they were resting from a hard day’s travel, Mary and Joseph had long conversations about what had happened and what the future might hold for them and their child.
“Sometimes I wonder if I imagined it all. I mean the angel and everything. Who am I that an angel would visit me? I am a virgin. You believe that, don’t you Joseph?”
Joseph pauses for a few long minutes searching for the exact answer.
“Honestly, Mary, it took me awhile, even after my own visit from the angel, but yes, I do believe you. I don’t know how I can but I do. And we will love this child. We will obey God. We will figure it all out.”
“By the way how are you feeling?”
“I’m having some pain, Joseph. I’m glad we’re almost there. I think we will leave Bethlehem with a baby” Mary replied shyly smiling.
“Go to sleep, Mary. You need your rest. I love you, Mary.”
“I love you, too, Joseph”.
Now I have no idea of what was said but it stands to reason Mary and Joseph had some pretty deep conversations. I mean this unplanned, unexplained pregnancy wasn’t just a case of a young woman becoming pregnant before marriage. This young woman claimed she had never even been with a man.
Plus, they were young: they weren’t saints. They were flesh and blood people just like us. Two teenagers facing a world of uncertainty. It only makes sense they questioned what was happening. We have such a hard time looking at some of the seemingly noble people portrayed in the Bible as no different from us. But they weren’t and there isn’t one shred of evidence that suggests otherwise.
Personally, I’m really glad about that. And the truth is, we know very little about Mary and even less about Joseph. The only time they have their “own” story is just this journey and the events leading up to this journey.
Like many parents, they lose their identity once their child is born and then it’s no longer all about them. Those of us who are parents can totally relate to that.
Two teenagers facing a pregnancy like none other. Raising what many would always consider an illegitimate child. Always having some people look a Mary and whisper behind her back.
I think it took a long time for the truth of Jesus’ conception to be fully understood by the two of them. I think it might even have been after the crucifixion before they really processed the entire situation.
Again, remember, these weren’t saints. They were two people God picked out to carry out his plan. And like any other person God calls, they were ill-equipped. I always find comfort in that as I feel ill-equipped myself many times in carrying out God’s plan in my own life.
But we become equipped with every obedient act we take. Obedience always lead to clarity.
As you travel on your own Christmas journey, take time to reflect on that other journey. Make it a time of reflection.
Make it a time of “calm and silence” in your own life.
God bless and have a good day.