Can you imagine a poor village girl in her early teens pledged to be married and being told she would have a child though she had never been with a man and had no plans of changing that fact until her marriage was complete according to custom? What dreams she must have had. Both real and imaginary dreams. Her child would be special, he would be the promised savior of Israel she was told.
Soon others knew. She had to tell someone, duty demanded it. What did her father say, her mother? There was Joseph of course. His marital arrangements were made with the understanding that she was a virgin. That she had never been with a man sexually. This news must have been devastating. Normal procedure would be to write her a bill of divorcement and save everyone shame, especially the child. He was ready to do this, she would have understood, the family would have understood and Jesus would have been raised by a grandfather.
Not God’s plan. He talked to Mary and he talked to Joseph and he gave them understanding of what was happening. To this day the world struggles with this story. It defies nature’s laws. It is easily dismissed with a wave of a hand and a faithless chuckle. Savior indeed. An illegitimate prophet at best.
But Mary knew better. She knew what we don’t know. We (including Joseph), must take it on faith. Mary knew. She knew she was a virgin and she knew she conceived and she knew that could only happen one way. But nothing went off like she dreamed, I’m sure.
Instead of a clean room in her new home or even an inn her baby was born in a dirty cow shed. Instead of family and friends gathering around to see the new born child the manger was crowded with dirty shepherds. The most common of men came to see the most uncommon man. There were wise men from the east, strange men with expensive gifts. They made a long journey and Mary had not sent out birth announcements.
What would have floored most mothers of newborns were seen as treasures by Mary. I have always been astonished by that statement. It was one of the first scriptures I remember learning. She treasured the scoffing remarks made behind her back. She treasured the forced acceptance of Joseph. She treasured her cow shed and her manger. She treasured those who came and exclaimed.
Not only did she treasure all of those things but she pondered them in her heart. She spend time thinking about what happened and why it might have happened that way. She pondered who her baby was and how he came to be. Her heart was full.
All over the world women are making do in difficult situations. They are bringing children into a savage world, into hunger and poverty. They fight for those children. I wonder if they ponder why things are as they are. To be honest, men aren’t too good at treasuring and pondering. They’re more into action and words. They cry out and exclaim and raise their fists. But, mothers treasure and ponder. Twenty years of putting an ornament on a tree they still remember their child making it. They have a store house of treasures they have spent much time pondering.
I’m often asked, do you remember this or that? I say yes but the truth is I don’t have the treasured memory or years of pondering to help me out. I just want to say, thank you God for all mothers to whom you gave storage for treasure and hearts to ponder.