we get a whole 7 days of the fourth week of advent this year! a whole 7 days of “christmas is so soon!” a whole 7 days of expectation and hope.
i don’t think anyone in history has ever understood the concepts of emmanuel and advent as well as mary did. mary had 9 months of advent, imagining what emmanuel would really look like. i would imagine she was probably terrified. nevermind the cultural difficulties of being an unmarried pregnant woman, or having to travel across country on donkey while 9 months pregnant or having to tell your fiance that you’re pregnant… she had to be wondering what it would really be like to have God as her child. Jesus came to earth not as a fully formed 25 year old, but as a baby. and most of us have some sort of mental image of that, because we see that a lot around christmas. but isn’t it strange to try to imagine what a perfect toddler would be like? jesus had to learn how to walk. he had to be toilet trained, or whatever they called that before they had toilets. he went to school, he had teachers. he went through puberty. how weird is that? mary had to be thinking about all of this for those nine months. what would it be like to have a child you never had to discipline? who always respected you, but always respected God first? it had to be terrifying. surely mary was ready to have emmanuel come, ready for rescue, ready for God’s promised messiah, but i’d imagine she was quite afraid as well, worried about how all the little particulars would turn out.
and yet Luke records a beautiful song of praise from mary, in the midst of this scary, overwhelming, good news.
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
4 days before the first christmas, mary most likely had the pleasure of riding cross-country on a donkey. i wonder what her song was like on that day. mine, i think, would not be so praise-filled, but mary was a special and holy woman. i pray that in the discomfort of expectation, as mary experienced, our song would still be praise. merry almost-christmas, friends!