ST. STEPHEN’S PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH DECEMBER 17, 2017
Rev. Sabrina Ingram
CHRISTMAS LETTERS: MARY
Luke 1: 26 – 37 & 46 – 56
Dear Diary, how grateful I am for you. You’re my outlet for the many things I ponder in my heart. What I write here is like my prayers to God. I’ve been betrothed for years to a man named Joseph ben Jacob. It was an arranged contract. I’ve been his wife since I was a child. Betrothal is a legally binding contract but because I was so young, I’ve lived with my parents. Now that I’m older, Abba thinks it’s time to “seal the deal”. Soon, we’ll have a religious ceremony. Ama is excited about the wedding plans. It won’t be fancy, but it will still be a celebration with the whole village attending. We’ll stand under a chuppah, and make our vows before God. Then, I’ll go to live with Joseph, and his whole family! I’m a bit scared, Diary. I’ve never met Joseph and when we meet his mother in the market, she glares at me. Ama says it’s because she doesn’t think anyone is good enough for her son. I don’t know anything about being a wife. I’m terrified of the wedding night – no one will take to me except to say it’s my duty have a baby. Oh well, this is God’s will for me, so all will be well. Mary
Dear Diary, I finally met Joseph! We went for a walk together. Well, Abba kept an eye on things. Joseph is very handsome! I think I’d like to kiss him! Is that wrong? Joseph is a carpenter. He builds houses, barns and furniture. He can trace his lineage back to Abraham, and King David was one of his ancestors. I’m practically royalty – lol. But I love the Psalms and one day, the Messiah will come from The House of David. Joseph seemed to like me. He smiled when I talked but I felt shy and didn’t have much to say. I’m still a little scared but Joseph is a gentle person. I’d seek to please God no matter what but it’s a bonus. Mary
Dear Diary, something wonderful and terrible has happened. This will sound unreal, but it’s true. I was alone sewing and praying. When an angel appeared, and greeted me. He called me “favoured one” and said the Lord was with me. I was confused and afraid. It’s not everyday I see angel’s. He told me not to be afraid, that God was pleased with me. Then he said I was going to have a baby! Well I hardly heard what he said after that. Something about naming the baby Jesus but all I could think was, I don’t know how to get a baby! I told him, “You must have the wrong house.” He assured me he didn’t and told me to listen. He said I’m supposed to name him Jesus. That he’ll be great; the Son of the Most High and God will give him the throne of David. I told him, “This is impossible – I’m a virgin. I haven’t even kissed my husband.” He said the Holy Spirit would come on me and by the power of God a baby would be put in my womb. He said the baby would be holy and he’d be called the Son of God. I stood there stunned as the message sunk in. They the shekel dropped, and I realized he was saying that I’ll give birth to the Messiah! I was in awe. He reminded me Elizabeth was pregnant even though she was so old because nothing is impossible with God. What could I say? The Lord had chosen me to be the mother of the Messiah. It was God’s will. So, I bowed my head and told him, “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be just like you said.” Then he was gone – when I began to realize what had happened, I started to laugh and cry. It was so amazing and joyful! Until I heard Abba coming up the walk and I froze. An angel isn’t nearly as scary as what will happen when I tell my parents. Help me, Lord. Protect me. Mary
O Diary, well I’m definitely pregnant and things have gone from bad to worse. Nobody believes me. Abba says I’ve brought dishonour on him. Ama think’s I’m crazy with my talk of angels and God. She called me a tramp. It hurt to hear her say that. Abba says the punishment for adultery is stoning, but it will be up to Joseph. Ama says Joseph’s a good man so maybe he’ll just disgrace me publicly and divorce me. I guess Abba will owe a lot of money to Jacob. It’s such a mess. I don’t want to be stoned. Lord, shelter me from his wrath. Keep me safe from harm. I’m so lost. Mary.
Dear Diary, Joseph, the gentle one, disappeared in a hurry. He was so angry – yelling at Abba and throwing things. He was threatening to kill me. He wanted to know who the father was and then he threatened to kill him. I was crying and tried to tell him, but he wouldn’t listen. I was so terrified I hid in the corner. Abba asked him what he wanted to do. He calmed down a bit and looked at me. He wants to think about it. I think he was crying when he left. He really liked me. I’m praying I’ll be spared. M
Dear Diary, everyone is so ashamed of me that Aunt Elizabeth invited me to stay with her. I’m very lucky because Joseph has decided to divorce me privately. He’s such a good man. I’m so sad. M
Dear Diary, when I arrived at Elizabeth’s, her baby started kicking for the first time. It was like he recognized by baby. Elizabeth believes me. She said, “How is it that the mother of the Lord is visiting me? Then she blessed me and said she was proud of me for trusting God. I guess it helps that Uncle Zech saw an angel too and he can’t talk now. I’m so grateful. I feel safe here and even though I’m sad about my family and Joseph I’ve been able to feel joyful that God has chosen me to be his servant. I spend my days magnifying the Lord and rejoicing. The Messiah is coming! Right out of my tummy! He’ll be strong and turn the world upside down. The proud will get knocked down to size; the powerful will change places with the meek; there will be food for everyone and the rich will have nothing. God is keeping his promises, after all this time. Even though very few people believe me now, future generations will say I’m blessed because God has done great things in my life. Mary
O Diary, life is so wonderful. God is so gracious. I’m so happy. Joseph came to get me today. He believes me now. He said God had convinced him that my story was true. He’s going to make me his wife after all. He actually apologized to me! It’s all perfect. I’m so grateful. M
Dear Diary, Joseph and I were married yesterday at Elizabeth’s. Abba wouldn’t come but Ama did. That’s okay. I didn’t need to worry about the wedding night. Joseph’s afraid to touch me. He did promise he’d be a loving and protective father to our little miracle. I really can’t ask for more. We need to take a trip to Bethlehem, where King David came from. Apparently, the Romans are taking a census – probably to tax us more and keep track of us like cattle – and we’re to go back to our ancestral home. I guess that will be exciting but I’m huge now and I can’t imagine travelling. We leave tomorrow. M.
Dear Diary, so much has happened since I last wrote. I’m a mother! He’s so little and vulnerable; he hardly seems like the Son of Almighty God. I feel so responsible for him. Joseph’s been wonderful too – he even changes the swaddling cloths. Let me tell you from the beginning. We got to Bethlehem and there wasn’t a room anywhere. My labour had started and was getting stronger. A kind man said we could use his stable. Not a place for a King to be born but it was shelter. Before we knew it, the baby was coming. There was no mid-wife, so Joseph delivered him. That was a miracle in itself! Neither of us are sure of the rituals for a man being unclean in this way but after everything that’s happened, it’s not a huge concern. I’m keeping the baby in a feeding trough which seems to be working. After Jesus arrived I was exhausted. I lay down to sleep but before I knew it Joseph was nudging me to wake up. I thought something was wrong with the baby. My heart leaped out of my chest. But, we had visitors he said. I thought that was very odd – who even knew we were there. Then I hoped it was Ama – it wasn’t. It was a small group of shepherds. How weird is that? They told us they’d been watching their sheep when angels appeared to them and gave them the news that a Saviour had been born. They told the shepherds exactly where to find us. The shepherds said the angels sang the most glorious song they’d ever heard giving glory to God and announcing peace to those he favours. They were in such awe, they immediately agreed that we must come and see the Messiah. They were so elated when they left they went out shouting the good news to everyone. What should I make of all this, Diary? It’s overwhelming. What I do know is that my little son has won his mother’s heart. Whatever else he is, he’s mine. I’m so blessed. Mary.
Dear Diary, it’s been a while now and Jesus is getting bigger. Amazing things just never stop. We had more visitors. Wise men from the East. They were so joyful to be with us. They said they’d followed a star. They’d made a detour in Jerusalem to pay honour to Herod, the Great. I almost choked. Not many of us think of Herod as our King but I kept that to myself. Eventually the star led them right to us. When they saw Jesus, they knelt to worship him. They knew he was a King. They didn’t seem concerned about the stable. Maybe kings in the east are always born in barns – what would I know? They had brought gifts as well. I told the men we couldn’t possibly accept them, but they insisted. They said they were symbolic gifts and it was necessary. Their priest came forward; he seemed to be in a trance like state, as if he’d a revelation. I’d never seen such a thing. The first gift he presented was gold. I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. The man said, “A King needs gold”. The second gift was an incense called frankincense. That seemed strange. He said, “I see your son will be a priest to all people bringing them back to God”. I don’t know how he knew that. It was amazing. The third gift was myrrh. That’s a stinky smelling perfume. The man then said, “I see suffering and death.” That shocked me, like an arrow piercing my heart. Shortly after they left Joseph had a dream. He was very worried for the baby. He has decided we’re going to Egypt. We move farther and farther from home, but what matters is Jesus. I would do anything for him. He is my whole world now. In fact, Diary, he is the whole world whether the world knows it or not. Mary.