Morning sunbeams danced in the southern window of their little family house as Mary sat near the fire. She enjoyed these hours of daylight when the air outside was cold and the walls protected her from the winds that blew almost ceaselessly along the hilltops.
Mother had gone to the street market in the village to get some olives, some oil and a few figs. Maybe she would bring home raisin cakes for the family to share tonight. Papa was helping a neighbor whose ox was ill. Isaac had taken the three younger children to the vista where they could glimpse the Sea of Galilee off in the distance. Mary was left to her sunbeams, her fire and her thoughts of the house which Joseph was working on for them. She wished the days would move faster!
As she thought of her wedding and her future life, she noticed the growing light in the room. Had the door blown open? She couldn't have that! She turned and the door was closed. "Hmmmm," she wondered. "Perhaps it was just my imagination." She turned back to the fire.
A man was standing there! She was about to cry out, when she saw him smile.
"Greetings, woman favored by the Eternal!"
What was this? The man is suddenly just standing there! What does he mean, "Woman favored by the Eternal?"
"The Eternal is with you! Don't be afraid, Mary. I am here because the Lord has sent me to you."
"H-h-how do you know my name?" she asked.
"Mary, you have found favor with the Eternal. I am Gabriel and I have been sent to you with a special message."
"Message? What type of message would the Eternal have for someone like me?"
Gabriel smiled again. "Mary, the Eternal has long been planning for this special time. You are going to conceive and bear a Son. You are to name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be known as Son of the Most High. He will be given the throne of His ancestor -- your ancestor -- David. The kingdom He establishes will be forever!"
Mary felt something stirring in her heart. It wasn't fear; it was awe. But why her?
"How can this happen? I am betrothed, but I am a virgin!"
"The Spirit of the Eternal will come upon you and the mighty power of the Lord shall watch over you. Mary..." his voice was quite tender now. She could sense that Gabriel was also in awe of all this. "...you will give birth to the Son of the Most High!"
Years later, Mary could immediately feel what she felt at the moment: fear, awe, joy, hope, and promise all mingled together. But she could never really describe it to anyone else.
"The Eternal is already carrying out His plan, Mary. Your relative Elizabeth, wife of Zechariah the priest, is pregnant in her old age. She is already in her sixth month. Mary, never forget: NOTHING shall be impossible with God! Every time He speaks, it contains the power to bring it to reality!"
"So be it!" Mary declared with a confidence she didn't know was there. "I am the Eternal's servant and I want Him to use me as He pleases."
To my readers: the events surrounding the birth of Christ are given extensive coverage in Scripture. The parts we don't always know about are the human elements, especially from the viewpoint of Jesus' participants. My attempt this Christmas is to stay true to the Biblical text, while shading in what it may have been like "between the lines." Please distinguish my ruminations from God's Word by reading the first few chapters of Matthew and Luke. My hope is that reading my words impacts you even a tiny percentage as much as writing them has impacted me.