We sat on the third to the last pew in the crowded Christmas Eve service. The first time we’d ever all five been to the evening service together. Bray held the eldest as Christmas carols rang out as he was the most unruly, and I stood between the little lady and the baby holding their hands and swaying in time to the music.
Born is the King of Israel
I don’t know that I have a favorite Christmas carol, but this is amongst my top five.
As I looked back and forth between my three four-year-olds, I heard those words differently.
This year I have resisted the kids growing up. I know, I know, it’s a good thing, but I’ve been nostalgic for those helpless little babies more and more.
And on this Christmas Eve night, I wondered how much harder it must have been for Mary.
Of course Mary was nostalgic as each Christmas Eve passed and they celebrated Jesus next birthday just as any mother would be. But don’t you imagine those birthdays were even more bittersweet for her than the average mom?
She didn’t know exactly what was to come, but she had to have known it would have been hard.
She accepted the word of the angel and rejoiced during her pregnancy to have been chosen. She treasured all the offerings and accolades from the shepherds and wise men when Jesus was a baby. But she also know he was God’s son sent to fulfill prophesy. In fact, when she brought Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem to present him as custom demanded, she heard this from a Godly man named Simeon:
Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother,
“Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against
(yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2)
A sword will pierce through your own soul.
She knew it wouldn’t be innocent baby time with kisses and cuddles for much longer. She knew he wouldn’t always be hers for safekeeping.
I imagined all she must have struggled with to be chosen as the mother of the King of Israel.
A blessing, without a doubt. But the heartache that accompanied it. The worry, the sleepless nights. Oh, she knew what we mothers go through more than we could even understand.
As I stood there, drinking in their little voices singing out Away in a Manger and The First Noel, I also stood grateful to have this time with them. This slow walk through their preschool years. With all the frustrations and messes that accompany it.
I stood grateful to know that they have a hope and a promise of a future relationship with God the Father because He sent His Son all those years ago and Mary bravely raised Him knowing that soon enough she wouldn’t be able to keep Him safe. With each birthday celebration, she must have hugged Him even harder and kissed Him even longer as she tucked Him in and told Him how happy she was to be His mommy.
So I’ll do the same. Hug them and kiss them and appreciate them still crawling into bed in the middle of the night or asking to be carried to the table. Appreciating Christmas in a way I hadn’t done before.