Although it is under attack annually, I believe the Christmas story. I believed it as a child and I believe it even more as an adult. If it were not true the story would have been vastly different. It would have been prettier. There would have been no stable, no manger and plenty of room in an inn.
Recalling the discomfort and pain of labor, the thought of traveling to another town to pay my taxes would not have ever been in any of my plans. Even if I had been compelled to go with my husband to be there in person to be counted I would have resisted. But that’s just me. Mary carried the baby who would one day be the beginning and the end of the Roman empire and of all empires everywhere while riding on a donkey.
That fact in itself is remarkable. When I was a little girl we had a pet donkey named Tarzan. He was a good pet but stubborn. If he didn’t want to give us a ride he wouldn’t. When we were able to ride him it was a very bumpy trip. I know that the chief mode of travel for the average person during the days of Jesus Christ’s life here on earth would have been by foot or by donkey. Still, traveling anywhere when a woman was great with child would have not been desirable.
One of the attacks on the Christmas story this year is Time Magazine’s assertion that Jesus was probably born in Nazareth instead of Bethlehem. Of course taking the word of skeptical clergy willing to say anything to be published instead of the story that has been told for thousands of years is not something I am apt do. The appearance of the Star in the East and the account of the Wise Men were also disputed. The writer, David Van Biema gave a “fair” treatment to the Christmas story yet it left me cold.
Newsweek’s Jon Meacham’s article was even worse. His skeptism of the birth of Christ extended to His virgin birth and he went so far as to suggest that Jesus was illegitimate. Meacham used as his sources “scholars” who don’t believe in the historicity of Christ. I have yet to see a positive treatment of Christmas by any liberal magazine. The editors of Time and Newsweek must all be descendants of Ebenezer Scrooge.
Another hypocritical move by each magazine was to put beautiful paintings of the nativity of Christ on the cover or in the magazine’s articles to draw the readers in. To use great art painted by artists like Botticelli, to get people to buy the magazines in hopes of reading articles that might have interesting and new facts about Jesus is craven at the very least. It was just another “Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown” trick.
I am amused and not surprised each year to see women’s magazines running articles about the stress that women feel this time of year. Well, duh! We may have much to do and sometimes our rushing seems pointless but I think that it may be the Mary in us to want to do for those we love to make their Christmas meaningful.
Women (for the most part) dress up the trees, do the shopping, wrap the presents, arrange the get-togethers, cook the food, clean the house, try to make it to the parties looking festive and dream of that perfect domestic scene when the tree is perfect, the children are nestled in their beds, the presents are wrapped and ready before midnight, and the brunch is warm and tasty on Christmas morn. For some reason we think that will all happen without our breaking a sweat.
Even as I blog there are so many things I ought to be doing. Sleeping is one thing. Wrapping presents is another. (Buying the presents should be a pre-requisite.) Packing up rooms in the house to be ready for the builders is another thing I should be doing.
What did Mary do? She traveled with her husband to Bethlehem to pay their taxes to Imperial Rome. She gave birth in a stable and played hostess to strangers coming to see her baby. Mary and Joseph had to flee to Egypt to keep their son safe from a raging Herod. She kept all these things in her heart and told the disciples in the days after her Son’s crucifixion and resurrection.
I believe Mary’s account more than Time and Newsweek magazines. It rings true. The magazines’ accounts are as sounding brass or clanging cymbals.