I’m holding my baby close to me in church. He’s not even two months old- a tiny thing still sleeping and cuddly and oblivious to the sound of the choir and the voice of the pastor. It’s the first Sunday of Advent and the candle flickers by the altar. Our pastor talks about Mary and the birth at Bethlehem. This is a message I’ve heard many times in various forms. But this time it’s different.
The little baby in her arms- was he sleeping and cuddly and oblivious to the sounds of the lowing cattle and the awestruck shepherds? Was Mary’s heart, so full of maternal joy and instinct, also weighed down by the uncertainty of it all? The knowledge that her child was the Lamb of God? My heart aches for Mary.
Mary entered motherhood knowing that her child was not really her own. Her child was the Child of God. Oh, that all of my actions in motherhood would reflect this understanding: that my children are not really my own, that they are Children of God.
These sweet words from Charlotte Mason remind me to keep my eyes open this season; to hear the story with fresh ears and continue to see the beauty in the sacrifice.
In these leveling days we like to think that everybody has quite equal opportunities in some direction; but Christmas joy, for example, is not for every one in like measure. It is not only that those who are in need, sorrow, or any other adversity do not sit down to the Christmas feast of joy and thanksgiving; for, indeed, a Benjamin’s portion is often served to the sorrowful. But it takes the presence of children to help us to realize the idea of the Eternal Child. The Dayspring is with the children, and we think their thoughts and are glad in their joy; and every mother knows out of her own heart’s fullness what the Birth at Bethlehem means. Those of us who have not children catch echoes. We hear the wondrous story read in church, the waits chant the tale, the church-bells echo it, the years that are no more come back to us, and our hearts are meek and mild, glad and gay, loving and tender, as those of little children; but, alas, only for the little while occupied by the passing thought. Too soon the dreariness of daily living settles down upon us again, and we become a little impatient, do we not, of the Christmas demand of joyousness. But it is not so where there are children. The old, old story has all its first freshness as we tell it to the eager listeners; as we listen to it ourselves with their vivid interest it becomes as real and fresh to us as it is to them. Hard thoughts drop away like scales from our eyes; we are young once more with the children’s young life, which, we are mysteriously made aware, is the life eternal. What a mystery it is!” (pp. 280-281)