Welcome to week three of our journey into the life of Mary. Don’t forget to catch up on last week’s summary post over on Naomi’s blog if you missed it. This week we looked at the exciting story of Jesus being born:
“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 manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” Luke 2:6-7
The missing birth-story
This week, whilst pondering this famous verse, I couldn’t help but think “where is the full story???”. Back when we looked at Eve, lots of us in our Facebook Group shared our birth stories. There were stories of joy, of pain, of changes of plan and persistence. There’s nothing us mums love better than a good birth story! But in our verse this week, the only thing we are told is that Mary gave birth.
This got me to thinking about what the untold birth story of Jesus would have been like for Mary. The bible was written mostly by men, to be read and studied by men, and hence with no men allowed to be at births at that time that is why no details are recorded. It’s a little sad really that the women’s perspective is lost, as women tended to pass on their stories orally and hence they were not recorded anywhere and are now lost. But I think from looking back at the historical context we can draw out some of the details that might have been true for Mary.
she would have been prepared (but not as well as she would have liked)
Women at the time would have given birth surrounded by friends and relatives that she knew and trusted. It is likely that they would have taken turns to comfort the labouring woman, and it is likely that Mary would have been around to see other women in her village go through this. Mary would have been prepared from watching others go through the experience. I am sure that she would also have been given a pack of the things that she needed by her mother and other close friends before setting off on the journey to Bethlehem – she clearly had the swaddling cloths that were traditional for babies to be wrapped in after they were born so she could wrap Jesus up safely.
However, the bible also mentions that women would normally have given birth on a birthing stool (Exodus 1:16), and it was unlikely Mary would have been able to carry that with her on the long journey. Although she was prepared mentally and with as many things are she could carry, there were some luxuries she would have to do without.
She might have been lonely
We can’t say for sure, but Mary had obviously travelled away from her safety net of female family and friends who would have been her birthing party if she was at home. Now, they were on their way to Joseph’s home town so it is possible that Mary would have had the help of some of his female relatives to assist her, but I’m sure we can all say that wouldn’t have been the same!! So either she had a party of in-laws whom she’d never met to help her, or she was all alone. Neither of which would be in our birth plans I’m sure.
She wasn’t in the most hygienic of places
We read in our verse this week that there was no guest room available to them. Now this makes me pretty mad. In our day and age we are always taught to make room for pregnant ladies, let them have seats on the train and bus and to generally look after them. I am mad that no-one in that whole town would give up their room for a woman in labour. Maybe it was because of the story that followed her, one of questionable standing given that Joseph wasn’t the babies proper dad. But maybe, just maybe, it was one of those little details worked out by God. God knew this baby was going to be delivered safely, because it was the most important baby in the world. So it didn’t matter that it was born in a room where animals sometimes stayed and fed. He was going to protect it. The message that sent of the servant king was much more important than a little bit of hygiene (you OCD cleaners out there will be horrified!!).
I want to send mary a cuddle
After reading this verse and thinking about it all week, I really do just want to send Mary a cuddle through time. Stepping into her shoes makes me feel exhausted just thinking about it – the travel, the loneliness, the labour in a less than perfect room with a less than perfect support team. When we moan about our birth plans not being stuck too or not getting the labour suite with the birthing pool, lets stop for a second and think about Mary. She trusted that God would bring her and the baby through, and He did.
I wonder how amazing that moment must have been for her when it was all over. When he was safely wrapped in swaddling cloths and place in the manger where he couldn’t roll away. I can picture the deep exhale, the peace that descended and the feeling of having accomplished what God had asked her to do. Now that is pretty amazing don’t you think?
Taking inspiration from mary
This Christmas I challenge you not to see the “mother mild” who we are all told Mary is, but to think back over the first three weeks of our studies. This is a faithful, strong and God focussed woman who knew she needed to play her part. How can you play your part in God’s plans for the world?
Next week we start to look at the older Mary, when Jesus starts his ministry. This is 30 years later and so much has happened in that time to the Mary we see here Why don’t you join me and Naomi in meditating on this verse:
“When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”” John 2:3-4
I hope that you will join us over on our Facebook community to discuss and delve into this even more over the week. There are free phone lock screens and other resources waiting there for you! You can join using the form below: