The 3 things we can learn from Mary on Christmas Day
Today is Christmas Eve, the day before my most favorite day of the year. The day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. If you aren’t familiar with the story, I encourage you to read it in Luke, Chapter 2. All of the apostles (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) give their rendition of the birth of Christ, but Luke’s version is my favorite. He was the first clinician educator I know. Luke was a physician and an apostle. He utilized his gifts of healing throughout his life as well as his gift of teaching. His writing is filled with descriptors and analogies that help the reader insert themselves directly into the story. We can all learn a lot from Luke’s style.
We can also learn a lot from the actual members present that day. I recently had lunch with a dear friend who just had a baby. When I first saw her, I saw me 2 years ago. Frazzled and tired of course, but transformed into a new person, transformed into a mother. With that transformation comes a whole host of new worries and stressors. Will I be good at this? Will I know what that cry means? Will I be able to be me and the parent this little child needs? On Christmas Day, so many years ago, there sat Mary with a new baby and I bet thinking all of those new thoughts. On top of all the normal worries, Mary birthed the Savior of the World…no pressure. Here are 3 things I think we can all learn from Mary on that first Christmas day:
1. Be Present
This time of year can really get mixed up in regards to the reason for the season. So often it becomes what present you can purchase for everyone in your life instead of focusing on being present with your family. I am guilty of this on a regular basis. I love giving presents, but instead of sitting and enjoying the presence of my family, I find things to do (clean up the kitchen, clean up the wrapping paper, etc.). Mary gives us a perfect example of being present in a noisy and demanding world. She is in a barn after having a baby, no epidural, no good drugs, no bidet in the next room…but yet she was present. Luke 2:19 says, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” She was present. She took snapshots of that moment and stored them in her heart. This Christmas be present and treasure your family’s presence.
2. Be Patient
I was pregnant with my son in the middle of a Midwest summer. If my husband told me that on June 30th we were going to travel 90 miles to take part in a census and we were going to travel by foot and donkey…I would have said you got to be kidding me. The trip to Bethlehem from Nazareth was 90 miles. Most people in ancient times could travel about 20 miles in a day, but with Mary’s impending delivery, it is estimated they could only travel 10 miles a day. The scene is set in the Judean desert in winter when the high of the day was in the 30’s and it constantly rained. It was likely that Mary and Joseph had to wear very heavy woolen cloaks to protect themselves from the weather which added to the weight of the trip. With all of these difficulties in front of them, Mary (and Joseph) had to be patient. When most people could travel a little ways longer, they had to stop. We are surrounded now with comforts that we have grown accustomed to. This time of year, however, is not immune to discomforts. Remember to be patient with your family and with others. You never know what difficulties that other person has encountered along the way.
3. Be Peaceful
Despite all of the reasons Mary could have been upset and complain, she was peaceful. When she was told as an unwed teenager she was with child, she was peaceful. When she was told she was to travel across an unforgiving desert in the middle of winter and 9 months pregnant, she was peaceful. When she was told there was no room for her and the delivery of her child in the inns, she was peaceful. Now none of the apostles write about Mary’s behaviors, and I venture to guess she wasn’t always happy or satisfied with her circumstances. Being peaceful doesn’t protect us from being uncomfortable. Being peaceful provides us with the opportunity to entrust our needs and our lives to God who is in control during difficult times. Christmas can be difficult for many, but Mary shows us that we can all be peaceful.
So let's all be more like Mary this Christmas. Be present. Be patient. Be peaceful.
What's your favorite part of the Christmas story?
“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manager, because there was no guest room available for them.” Luke 2:6-7