A scream is heard in the dark, starry night.

Why is that woman screaming? “She’s in labor.” “I am so glad you put those people out with the animals, boundaries are important.” “Weren’t they evasive about where they were from and why they were here?” “It makes them look suspicious.” “They clearly should not have been put with the other guests; they smelled like they had been traveling for months.” “We certainly don’t want those foreigners in our city to interrupt our holiday, it’s not like they are family nor have any family here.” “Now we’ll have to help out their kid too.”

All the relatives and friends were in a different city. The noise of the crowded inn was shut out as they closed the door where the animals were kept. They would be safe her from the cold and curious visitors. Soon, they would register and declare to the world they were a couple, a new family. Mary knew she was to marry and trust this man Jacob but when she saw hints of doubt in his face she may have worried about her future. In this time of travail, would he be strong enough to help her?

We do not know if the same God who serenaded the shepherds, the same God who gave Elizabeth hope, the same God who told her of Jesus would be questioned by this couple in this hour. Were the dreams enough to encourage them? Were there majestic Heavenly violins? When the supernatural invaded that cattle stall, were there prophecies, utterances of praise or just tenacious faith clinging onto hope in the silent, cold, darkness?

In Matthew,  Jacob is tasked with naming the baby Jesus and there is the hope that he will save the people from their sins. This baby will touch so many people in a way that connects them to God that they will call him Emmanuel- God dwelling with us. His presence would be different than other children. The Jewish baby comes from a long line of praying, believing and hoping saints and sinners. But this day, there is no silver spoon in his mouth or designer blankets. Mary knew this baby’s DNA would be different than anyone ever expected.

In the gospel of Mark, he tells us right off the bat that this baby is not just Mary’s but belongs to God.  How do you attach to a baby that is only truly partly yours?  11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Rather than focusing on that candlelit manger scene, Mark gives us a glimpse into the Heavenly family. He illuminates for us the unity of the Trinity – Father, son and Holy Spirit all together but doing different tasks. His identity is not based on what Jacob names him but on who his heavenly father says that he is.

Luke lets us know this was Mary’s first son; God could have selected a seasoned mama with ten kids if He was just looking for a surrogate with experience. God had selected someone He trusted, someone who had His attention and favor. He wanted the mommy of His son to be kind, compassionate and someone who magnified the Lord.  She did not reject this baby but wrapped him up in cloths. Was this to make him comfortable, to protect Him from all the germs in that dirty setting or to get him ready for another journey? When she laid him down in that manger was it with joy or fear that he just might end up being God’s son and the peoples’ savior? Was that act of simple release (laying him down in the manger instead of holding Him) Mary’s understanding that this child would be given for the sins of the world? If this birth process did not kill her, certainly His death process might. Mary knew because Mary had been foretold and forewarned, she agreed anyway.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. “ God has brought the Jewish baby and His family to be born in a Jewish town. In spite of the father, angel and community giving Him a name- Mary knew that this little child would never fully be hers.   

John, the best friend of this baby knew that what His family spoke of Jesus may be accurate but it was not complete. He starts out his verbal photo album by letting us know that this baby was God’s Word, the actual creator of the universe, He was the total gift of life and light. He could see things come full circle and knew that the existence of this saving Messiah was for a purpose, a reason that we along with the saints from generations ago and for all those after could become the children of God – spiritual siblings. The Son desired brothers and sisters, those who reflected the image of His father.  This baby was not just a boy, He was the son of God – fully God and fully man. If that were not enough, he also tells everyone His character – He is FULL of grace and truth. Because Mary knew John, she did know that this baby boy would not become the great I am – He was born the great I am. Scripture records that Mary knew, and her response was “be it unto me according to Your Word.”

Those at the Inn did not receive Him. His family would not receive Him. His city could not receive Him. His nation fought against Him but when the God who sent Him received Him into glory, that promised Holy Spirit was poured out and the promise released that we could become the children of God. Matthew 10:40 tells us, ““Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.” Those who accept this baby’s  work – what He did on the cross as payment for our sin, whoever acknowledges that He is Lord and confesses with their mouth that Jesus is Lord, will be saved.” The rejected one opens the door to the Heavenly family, where no one is ever abandoned, rejected or alone. What a gift! What a Presence, what a King.

Oh come, let us adore Him, not just as a baby but as King and Lord….

Merry Christmas.

Renae Roche 2017