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Faith Imagined: Holidays were Hard for Jesus' Mother too!

Faith Imagined

Alisa Hope Wagner: Christian Writer

December 9, 2006

Holidays were Hard for Jesus' Mother too!

I love thinking about Christmas in July. In July, Christmas is a magical holiday celebrating the birth of the world’s savior, Jesus Christ. Just the thought of Christmas forms a delightful image in my head of my family sweetly sitting by the fireplace, each holding a steaming cup of hot chocolate, enjoying the sound of carolers standing in the front lawn.

The reality of this image, though, would be my five year old spilling hot chocolate all over the Christmas tree skirt, my two year old shoving Christmas DVDs into the fireplace, and my four month old caroling to us all night with her cries.

Once November comes around, the magic of Christmas seems to fade with the warm weather, and I roll up my sleeves, write out my battle plan and prepare to seek and destroy everything on my holiday to-do list. I’m on a mission to enjoy Christmas, and I will not rest until all the holiday traditions have been accomplished.

I pull an all-nighter baking Christmas goodies for teachers and friends, begging my husband to frost the sugar cookies. I trudge to the mall with my kids, urging them to smile while sitting on Santa’s lap. I climb into the tiny, dark attic, scouring for all my Christmas decorations. And I comb through all the cooking magazines, hoping for just the right recipes for my made-from-scratch Christmas dinner.

Year after year, I find myself on the other side of December exhausted and thankful the holiday season is over. I heave a sigh of relief that I’m in a new year and that twelve months now separate me from the next Christmas holiday. I’m determined to lose the five pounds I gained from so much stress and baking, and I make a mental note to rethink my holiday strategy for next year.

I’m also filled with guilt that I wasn’t able to enjoy Christmas like I should. And I wonder if Jesus is upset with me that I was so busy celebrating His birthday that I barely had enough time for Him. I want to be a like Mary who basked in the Savior’s presence, but I always wind up being like Martha, busily working and forgetting the reason for my work (Luke.38-42).
But a friend released me from my guilt when she said, “The holidays were hard for Jesus’ mother too.”

When Jesus was born, Caesar Augustus was taking a census, so everyone was traveling and the streets were packed with traffic. Mary was only pledged to be married to Joseph, yet she was nine months pregnant. I’m sure the looks she received from the strangers around her were not always nice. She was either walking or riding on an animal, so her entire body ached from being very pregnant and on the go.

Mary is not prepared when she starts going into labor. Her life is on the verge of overwhelming change, but no one seems to care. She is forced to give birth to her baby in a cave, and she probably didn’t have the basic necessities for the delivery.

Angels start popping up out of the middle of nowhere, jolting people out of there leather sandals. Shepherds neglect their sheep and run off to get a glimpse of the new King. People are now hearing crazy stories about a baby in a manger and angels singing glory to God.

Mary was just a girl. She just gave birth to the world’s savior. She was far from home in a cave with a man she barely knew, and gawking shepherds were trying to get a look at her. I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that the first Christmas was a tad stressful for Jesus’ mother.

However, what was Mary’s reaction to all of this chaos?

"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart" (Luke:19).

Instead of fighting the chaos, complaining about the chaos, running from the chaos; Mary “treasured” the chaos in her heart. To her the overwhelming events weren’t chaos at all – they were God’s design to bring a savior into the world. God many times brings us His beautiful will through an ugly mess.

So the next holiday season, don’t feel guilty that your Christmas is somewhat chaotic. The world will always be a mess, but we as Christians have peace in our hearts. Our peace should not change with our environment; it should be our constant staple. Don’t begrudge the chaos because someday you might miss it. Our lives are beautifully messy, and we should constantly be pondering those crazy memories in our hearts.



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