Baby’s First Christmas!
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas here in Valdez, Alaska. Snow has fallen, our Alaskan spruce tree is up, decorated, and taking up way too much room in our tiny cabin’s living room. I’ve spent the last three days a slave in the kitchen baking tons of yummy goodies to give away. I’ve got lists of groceries to buy and last minute gifts to get since we’re hosting my family this year. I’ve been inspired to make this Christmas extra special because of one little reason I didn’t have last year –
She turned 10 months old on December 2nd and stares with wonder at the lights on the Christmas tree (before yanking down the lowest hanging ornaments).
Her middle name is appropriate for this time of year- Noelle is the female version of Noel which means Christmas in French. It’s the name of theologian and pastor John Piper’s wife. Tyler and I both thought it was beautiful. She was born in February but she’s our Christmas girl.
This time last year, December 2015, I was 8 months pregnant. I couldn’t help but think of Mary awaiting the birth of her first born son as I waited (impatiently) to meet our first born daughter.
But as much as I thought about Mary carrying baby Jesus in her womb last Christmas, it doesn’t even compare to the connection I feel to her this year. I think of her in the holy moments of motherhood, like when Teagan falls asleep in my arms. Moments like that bring a new found sense of wonder at the story of that other young mother holding her own sleeping baby over 2,000 years ago.
Mary and I. We have so much and yet so little in common.
Her baby was born in a stable or a cave and laid in a manger. Mine was born in a comfortable birth center and laid in a padded cradle.
Her baby was greeted by unknown shepherds from a field nearby. Mine was greeted by a large family who waited expectantly for her arrival.
But her baby had flesh and blood and new baby skin, and so did mine.
Her baby was fed by the breast milk of his mother, and so is mine.
Her baby had wet diapers and took first steps and said first words, and so did mine.
But Mary’s baby was born to die, so that mine might be born to live. Her baby came to take on the task that no one else could. For he was all human baby but also divine.
“Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant and being made in the likeness of men.” Philippians 2:7
While Teagan didn’t have a choice… Jesus didn’t have to be born in painful childbirth. He didn’t have to grow up in the harshness of the first century, or to parents who had to work so hard to survive. He was God. He was the king of the universe. But He gave it all up at a certain time in history, at a certain place on earth. In Bethlehem. All so that he could die at a certain time in history, at a certain place on earth. At Golgotha. Death by the cross.
“Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:8
Her baby was born to be obedient to God, to the point of death. So that He might rise again in victory over it and be shown as the Son of God, as Jesus Christ the Lord.
“For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11
Her baby was born for a tragic purpose. He died a horrific death. Mary didn’t choose this for Him, His Father did. God had it all planned, and Mary acting in trusting obedience played her part of the story and then had to watch it all unfold. Maybe she didn’t know what it was all for, maybe she didn’t know it was God’s great love to send His son to die. She certainly couldn’t just turn to John 3:16 and read…
“For God so loved the world that he sent His only begotten Son that who so ever believes in Him will have eternal life.” John 3:16
Eternal life with God.
Mary may not have known the great purpose for her little baby’s life. She was a woman living in a pivotal time in history when God came down to dwell on the earth. But we don’t know what Mary did or didn’t know. We only know that she obeyed. When given the news of her part to play, the news of what her life would become if she said yes to God, she said,
“Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38
Like Mary, I don’t know the exact purpose of my baby’s life. I don’t know exactly the hardships or tests that she will face. Like Mary, I can’t stop the pain and suffering that will inevitably effect my child. The only thing I can do, is act in obedience to God myself. To be like Mary and live obediently. That’s the best thing Mary could do for her son Jesus. Because she submitted to God’s will she got to be directly involved in God’s work, and the whole world benefitted.
I don’t expect my obedience to be that far reaching, to change the whole world. But I do think that my submission to God in obedience might at least affect my little girl’s world. I want to teach Teagan His ways by directing her to His word, so she will know the truth about Mary’s son Jesus.
Despite what other traditions believe, Mary was just young woman. There was nothing really different about her that set her apart for the high calling of being Jesus’ mom. She simply obeyed God. So by her example as an ordinary mom I’ve learned that I too can obey God, I just have to listen to Him like she did. I can do that by reading His word . And I can pray, as Mary also prayed. Now that I am a mom, I pray. I pray every night for my baby. I count on the promise in 1 John 5:14 that if I pray according to His will, He will hear me. I pray every time it comes to mind that MY baby will kneel and bow before the one true God. I pray that once we teach her the truth, her tongue will confess that Mary’s baby is Lord. That Jesus is God. And that she will know, He alone gives purpose to her life. That by trusting in Him, confessing, and believing she will rise with Him again and live forever too.
The Christmas season is so fun and so busy. It’s full of traditions, and events, and food, and family. I’m enjoying it and looking forward to more. But this year, my first year as a mom, I’m stealing away holy moments. I’m pausing in the car on my way to the post office, in the kitchen washing cookie sheets, to let the Lord speak and remind me what it’s all for. What it’s all in celebration of- Her baby.
Mary’s baby was born to die, so that my baby might be born to live.
Thank you Lord.