And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luke 2:7 (KJV)
“I can’t help but think of Mary riding that donkey whenever I see a pregnant woman at this time of year,” she said. We both glanced down at my swollen tummy.
Our minister, Sue Ann, had stopped me in the narthex as my family and I were on our way into Christmas Eve church. Adam and the kids continued to hang up their coats and Sue Ann continued.
“Can you imagine? Riding on that road, bouncing up and down, how uncomfortable she must have been?”
I could not. This was our third baby and would be our third ride to a hospital—and soon—I was due on January 2nd. Neither previous trip had been especially comfortable, but clearly I hadn’t been riding an animal or turned away at a motel.
I’ll assume we were headed into the 5:30 service, because Jono would have been 7 and Abby 3, so someone was likely singing in a choir or performing in a pageant. I’m certain that they were dressed in their holiday best and I’m certain I was not, given the state of my aforementioned nine-month belly.
My entire view of the Christmas story changed that year as I listened from Mary’s point of view. On the donkey, was she scared? There was no home for her at the inn, but did she already know that once her baby was born, she would be home? Not just the home created for her in that stable, but the home forever etched in her heart, location notwithstanding.
Because I didn’t know. People tell you lots of mushy things when you’re pregnant and you nod your head, but you don’t really understand—until you do.
Our third baby was born on January 3, 2002. We drove to the hospital and, as expected, it was a bumpy ride. I shared a room (but there were no animals). I don’t remember much about anything, because the moment Sam was born, I was home again, for the third time, just because he was there.
Mary gave birth in a humble stable, to Jesus, who is Christ the Lord. And I wonder if she felt the far-from-humble feeling that I felt of being home, just because He was there.
God’s greatest gift to the world is that we are all home, just because He was there.