What the first Christmas might have been like

The mother’s scream ripped through the darkness.  She bit her lip, her body tense, her mind focused. The pain for this first-time mother was beyond anything she had anticipated. She tried to recite the verses she had learned as a child. “My heart rejoices in the Lord! The Lord has made me strong…There is no Rock like our God.” 1

She felt the uncontrollable tightening across her back, as her body strained to release the physical burden that had grown heavier these past months. Perspiration beaded on her forehead. She fought back the fear of panic that was rising in her chest. With greater intensity she kept repeating…”The Lord has made me strong. The Lord has made me strong. The Lord has made me strong.” The contraction subsided, and she rested.

She had labored through the night, only her husband by her side. No mother would ever know the physical pain she bore to birth this son.  She was a young mother after all—her womb—a virgin’s.

Between contractions her husband tenderly stroked her hand. His deep voice began to hum a familiar melody. It was just like him to hum only the tune so she would have to voice the lyric. Between contractions she quietly sung the words she herself had written months earlier. 

How my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoiced in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed… 2

She smiled. Joyfully remembering the day she discovered she was pregnant.

The smile quickly melted under the growing strength of another contraction. Her weary muscles bore down, and Mary’s sweet song was driven from her mind with God’s promise to Eve, “I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth.” 3

The final contraction was the worst. The young girl’s body stretched between time and eternity by two invisible powers. The first, denying her son entrance to the world, and the other, insistent that the boy be born precisely on time.

With eyes squeezed tightly shut, she pushed hard, and heard the infant cry of her newborn son.  His tiny human lungs inhaled earth’s air as a human for the first time.  Amidst the chaotic noise of an overcrowded Bethlehem night, she heard her husband’s gentle voice, “We will call Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

Years later, the apostle John would capture this event with nine simple words. . . and the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us. . .

1 Samuel 2:1-2. Taken from Hannah’s prayer when she discovers she is pregnant with Samuel the prophet. It seemed reasonable to me that an expectant mother would have known and learned this passage.

2 Luke 2:46-48

3 Genesis 3:16

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