Handmaid of the Lord

baby-jesus-mary-joseph

Perhaps it is the fact that so many of our Bible commentaries are written by men that we so seldom read much about the care God shows for barren women? In our age of contraception and abortion, where human life is so cheaply regarded, the plight of the barren woman is possibly incomprehensible – except to those of us in that category. Friends say, in kindly fashion, that there must be some medical procedure which would help, but sometimes there is simply nothing that can be done. For Abraham’s Sarah, Elkanah’s Hannah and Zechariah’s Elizabeth there is the shame of being barren in a world where women were prized mainly for their ability to bear sons; Sarah resents Hagar, and Hannah is mocked by Penninah – only Elizabeth finds a kindly female relative to visit her – another act of kindness from Our Holy Mother.

Mother Mary’s pregnancy was another unexpected one, but in her case because she knew not a man. The Bible gives us some hint of what it must have been like for the young woman. For a betrothed woman to fall pregnant by another man was the equivalent of adultery, so it was actually a sign of Joseph’s righteousness that he did not just divorce her or hand her over to judgment, but was minded to put her aside privately. But it must have been horrid for Mary. She knew she was a virgin, she knew that far from having done wrong, she had been obedient to the word of God, and she had accepted that word, knowing, as she must have done, that it would go hard with her in the eyes of the world. It was only the mercy of God in telling Joseph what had happened that saved her from shame, and even then, we know from the charges brought against the early Christians, that there was a legend that Mary had been violated by Roman soldier; it was known that Joseph was not the child’s father.

God it was who made those who were barren fruitful, just as he makes the desert bloom. God it was who assuaged their longing with a child, just as he assuages our needs in prayer. The world, so long in chains to sin was groaning, even as a woman does in child-bed. So it was that the angel appeared to the young maiden, putting to her God’s word, and she assented – despite what it might have cost her. And on this night, after a long journey with her betrothed, young Mary felt the pangs of birth come on her, and so it was that the Saviour of the World entered into this world in the flesh, not in a palace, but in a stable rude and bare. He came not for earthly glory, but to die upon the Cross to save us from our sins, and his first witnesses were poor shepherds called from their fields – the first so a long line which leads to us, and will lead from us. We are called to be fruitful messengers of His Word.

On this night of nights, let it be so, and let the peace and joy of Christ be with us all, now, and always.

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About JessicaHof
Anglican Christian, evangelist, survivor, grateful

3 Responses to Handmaid of the Lord

  1. “that there was a legend that Mary had been violated by Roman soldier; it was known that Joseph was not the child’s father.” I would challenge this so-called legend! If there could have been a whiff of this in Jesus time, then Satan would pressed it to the end, to destroy both Mary and Joseph!

    *Though, I am one that does believe that Joseph was somewhat older (middle-aged?) than Mary when they were betrothed to each each other. And perhaps Joseph was married before? Thus the so-called brothers of Jesus, were Joseph’s earlier sons. This is the tradition of some Eastern Orthodox.

    And btw, lots of middle-aged men had/have children! I was myself both 40 and 46 when my (our) son’s were born.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed ‘the Night of all Nights’, harking back to the Passover also! “For even Christ our passover is sacrificed (slain) for us.” Yes, Jesus/Yeshua was born to die for us-sinners!

      Thanks Jessica to remind us of this greatest truth of all! “No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven – the Son of of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in HIM.” (John 3: 13-15)

      Liked by 1 person

    • JessicaHof says:

      I’m entirely with you on this, Father 🙂

      Like

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