the birth of Jesus: when humanness and holiness mingled.
Birth is real and raw, often not calm and bright and silent in the night.
Mary carried a child that was never hers, one she knew she would have to release. She would eventually watch him bleed out on a cross.
On her day of delivery, there was no room. No room for the Son of Man to make His entrance.
It didn’t matter that the Saviour of the world was cramping her womb, there was just no room.
But there was a manger, a trough and muck and the warmth of sheep. As her bones ached, and her baby pressed into the birthing canal, she made her way to the hay, the mound of it, much softer than the backbones of a donkey.
She had no midwife palpating her belly, or timing her contractions.
She bore down and let the birth pangs bring forth the King. Did he come fast? Did she tear? Did she scream out when it burned and He crowned? Did she weep with joy when she saw Him release from her womb, with a rush of amniotic fluid and tangled limbs? Was Joseph wet with tears when he saw Jesus, with a scrunched face and fists greeting the world His Father made?
She watched him wail and wake up the pigs, her legs trembling, her chest warm with the weight of Him against her.
She watched him writhe in the earthly air, covered in lanugo and vernix—or was He overdue, with peeling finger skin?
Did Joseph sterilize something sharp to cut the cord of the King? Did he bang on the door of the innkeepers house, ask for supplies and blankets and cold water for Mary to sip?
Did shock press upon Mary’s heart when she finally saw Him?
This, this baby is the Saviour of the world? This one that needs milk and the warmth of my skin, this one.
It probably didn’t make any sense at all, the gold and myrrh, the heady fragrance of frankincense filling the air, the cattle roaming.
Birth is exhilarating and messy, so very rooted to this earth.
And yet, this is how He came.
Did Mary, in her woozy state after birth, bury the placenta in the dirt and hay, and in the same breath, accept the gifts from the silk road? Was she watching the Magi through heavy eyelids laced with sweat? Was she yearning to sleep, with her babe tucked into the crook of her arm?
She was a mother now, unglamorous, torn by the rush of birth, filling with milk. She was a mother now, entrusted with this gold, fit for a King. With these priestly stones of frankincense, and the gum of myrrh, for His sacrificial death. This myrrh that would scent the burial robes Jesus would leave behind in the tomb. This myrrh that reminded Mary that Jesus was not her own, that His birth, with the blood and the grunting and the bearing down, His birth was a holy gift to a throbbing world.
Luke 2:19 say she took all the words said about her Son into her heart, and she weighed them and pondered them. Did she rejoice and grieve in the same wave of emotion?
Humanness and holiness, maternal blood and eternity mingled in that simple town of Bethlehem.
God breathed life into a woman. He poured His strength into her bones. He called her worthy.
He whispered: you are valuable, you are precious, you are the one to birth the Son of Man.
Woman, daughter, mother.
I choose you.