Twenty-two years ago today I became a mother. I don’t think there could have been a more ill prepared mother in the history of humankind than I was! Living in a foreign land far from family, with nothing but my young husband, a tattered copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting, and my French-English dictionary by my side, I wasn’t the most confident mother-to-be. When the word onesie doesn’t even appear in the official Robert-Collins French-English dictionary and we were still about a decade away from the launch of the Internet, how in the world was I to know what the French called a onesie let alone where I might obtain one…or the suggested 20 versions of the same? I was not exactly ready to deliver my Christmas baby.
Mary also had a Christmas baby. The Christmas baby. I was double her age but most likely not double her in terms of preparedness.
While Mary did not hesitate to agree to be the mother of the Lord’s Christ, I imagine she never expected that she would deliver the Christ child in a stable in Bethlehem, far from her home in Nazareth. There was much that would surprise this young girl of 13 or 14, much that she would think about and ponder.
The book of Luke tells us that Mary “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart”. Until I was a mother I never really understood what she was so busy pondering.
This night 22 years ago I delivered my first-born son and laid him in the comfort of fine white swaddling clothes to keep him soothed from the harsh realities of life outside the womb. All lullabies escaped my memory and would not pass my lips save this one alone: Away in a Manger. To my surprise, I recalled every word of this Christmas classic and sang all 3 verses as a lullaby to my own Christmas baby. The words that resonated with me the most are from the final verse: “bless all the dear children in Thy tender care and fit us for heaven to live with Thee there.” It quickly became clear that my deepest prayers and longings would forevermore be for the blessing and well-being of my children.
Clearly, I was beginning the mother work of pondering.
What would my son become? How could I shield him from adversity and pain? How would I teach him to become all that his heavenly Father had intended for him to become? I already knew I would love him from the depths of my being. That was irrevocably settled while he still lived within my womb.
Now the great question would become: would I trust that my God – his God – loved my son even more than I did?
We all carry many hopes and expectations for our children. Hopes of health and well-being. Dreams of success and security. The expectation of a life surrounded by love and compassion. We hope, and we ponder, and we pray. And in our hopes and expectations of what our children will become, the God-man beckons us to entrust them to Him. In Him all the promises of God are “Yes” and “Amen”. In Him is the fulfillment of all of our greatest hopes and expectations.
Soon we will leave the season of Advent, the season marked by waiting and watching, hoping and expecting, as we arrive at the glorious season of Christmas, the season of Immanuel, God with us. And we discover afresh that all of our hopes and dreams have their ultimate fulfillment in the God-man.