Reflecting Upon the Nativity

Lani’s post, “Away in a Manger” got me thinking.  I love these questions and well researched thoughts.  Like Lani, I can see myself blurting out a comment about Mary being on her back.  I just would not be able to help myself.  Hebrew women commonly gave birth upright using bricks or stones as a birthing stool that would leave an opening for the baby come (see Exodus 1:16).

I am also curious about who was with her.  The scriptures just don’t go into that kind of detail.  It is likely that a midwife or other female family members were there.  But then I asked myself, would a midwife have been available with all of those people in Bethlehem?  It seems that with all of the extra people in the city there would likely have been great need for the services of the local midwives.  Would Mary have been a priority especially given the circumstances of her pregnancy?  Would Joseph’s family have welcomed them into their home or would they have turned them away knowing that the timing of their engagement, pregnancy, and marriage did not add up? They may have either thought this couple had either broken the law of chastity or that Joseph was a fool for taking a wife who was not virtuous. Or is it that Joseph’s family knew she would need privacy to give birth and the best place for that would be the first floor where the animals were housed at night?  All we are told is that “there was no room for them in the inn[s]” (Luke 2:7, see footnotes). Did they attempt to find other housing and were continually turned away after his family turned them away?

Had Mary and Joseph come to the realization that they truly were on their own with only God to help them?  I don’t know but I find great comfort and power in these words, “and she brought forth her firstborn son” (Luke 2:7).  She did it.  Mary’s body gave Him mortal life. She gave birth to Him. Was her birth unassisted? I don’t know but there is no doubt she would have received Divine Assistance.  I think that Heavenly Father and Mother would be the perfect “midwives.” I would not be surprised if Mary was left to herself for at least part of her birthing time.  Regardless, I like how Luke has given words to recognize what Mary had accomplished. She did not shrink from her calling.  She embraced it.

At the same time, I imagine that Joseph did observe the yoledet and yet could not leave her.  I think he was her guardian angel.  Allowing her space for privacy, protection, and safety.  Was she to be alone just as her Son would someday be alone in the Garden of Gethsemane with only an angel to witness the event?  How sacred that moment must have been.  I can see her cradling His warm, slippery body against her skin in complete awe of what she was witness to.  After pondering the miraculous nature of His birth I am comforted knowing it did not take place in a noisy crowded inn, surrounded by people who may not have understood the sacredness of that moment.

I don’t know the answers.   But these are thoughts that have come to my mind as I have pondered my own Christmas miracle birth. Throughout my pregnancy I battled my own fears about birth after my first baby was born by cesarean.  I was pregnant with my second child when five days before Christmas I found myself alone waiting for my husband to come home while my body began contracting with intensity.  I went upstairs to pack my hospital bag and take a shower.  I was filled with relief as my husband arrived home but it also became apparent that this baby was not going to wait for the hospital.  In the midst of hurrying to call family, a neighbor, and 911, my son’s body pushed its way out.  I may not have been surrounded by domesticated animals but I did feel very primal and divine at the same time.  I felt a direct connection to heaven and an immediate kinship with Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus.  What a gift I had been given.  This birth taught me so many lessons.

I enjoyed reading this poem written to Mary (thank you Laura for sharing it).  Whether alone or surrounded by women I see Mary as humble and so very powerful at the same time.  How grateful I am to her for submitting herself to God so willingly. I look forward to sitting at her feet to hear the story of Christ’s birth in her words.

Do you have any thoughts of Christ’s birth you would like to share?  Have you had a birth near Christmas?  How did that birth change or enhance the way you have thought of the Nativity or the Savior?

9 thoughts on “Reflecting Upon the Nativity”

  1. This painting is very dear to my heart:
    I have experienced a beautiful empowering home birth and angels that still frequent my home. I only wonder of the power and awe that Mary felt during and after her experience. It also brings new meaning to the scripture about Mary keeping these things and pondering them in her heart.

  2. I was born on Christmas Day 🙂 A lot of people think that I should hate my birthday, but I really don’t. My parents actually fine it very fitting because I’m their only daughter, and I came “on Christmas Day in the morning”. I was also my mom’s one and only drug-free birth, but only because I was born in 45 minutes. Yes, 45 minutes. I was really in a hurry 😉

    1. I love that my son’s birthday is close to Christmas. It brings me closer to the Savior. And I thought his birth was fast (90 min) but you have that beat! I love it!

  3. I love these thoughts, Robyn. I love how you draw that parallel between her giving birth and the Savior in Gethsemane. And I love how you recognize the blessing it was that she wasn’t surrounded by strange on-lookers as she gave birth. It was private and sacred. I love how you recognize her courage and her ownership of what had happened. Definitely sharing this!

  4. Eden, I like how that painting shows the angels attending to Mary. I birthed via UC and definitely felt God’s presence as my midwife. (I agree that if they weren’t good enough for an inn, they definitely weren’t finding any local midwife and they didn’t bring one with them). But I have an issue with the painting – why is Joseph not a part? Why are women attending to Mary rather than her own husband in this intimate, celebratory experience? that just seems wrong.

  5. I was pregnant with my first at Christmas time and was on bedrest and often felt overwhelmed with the responsibility of carrying this tiny baby and concern for him and his safety. I loved listening to Breath of Heaven, the Amy Grant song and I felt so close to Mary and while I did not carry the same burden she did, I felt some of its weight.

    Many years later after I birthed my 3rd, my new baby played baby Jesus in a live Nativity. It was a precious experience and brought to my mind how much of a miracle each birth is. How by celebrating the Saviors birth each year we are reminded of the many gifts he gave us, including the Gift of Life!

    Thanks for sharing your Christmas birth miracle with us.

  6. That is beautiful Robyn. I keep thinking about how maybe the fact that they couldn’t go to the inn was really a blessing. After experiencing the difference when my last birth was peaceful, quiet, and hardly interrupted, I could see how that would be a wonderful atmosphere to bring forth our Savior. This year, more than others, I was more able to relate to Mary’s sacrifice and feel a better connection to her. Thank you for pointing out the scripture “She brought forth her firstborn son,” I had never really thought about it in that way. If only we could witness that moment.

  7. I haven often wondered about the birth of the Savior, especially when talking about it at church during a lesson or Christmas activity. I wondered if anyone else actually thought about this stuff besides me! That doesn’t really matter. It will be amazing to learn the details of that most sacred birth 🙂

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