Even the large firepot failed to heat the small open room in the front of the house. Mary was happy for the quiet this morning and was patiently waiting to use this time and speak with her mother. Where would she begin?
Papa put on his heaviest cloak as he departed to help Joseph with the roof on the house he was building. Isaac and young Yacov were at Torah school. Mary's little sister Naomi was playing with her friend in the village.
Mary sat by the fire and held her hands near it to warm them. She heard her mother from the other room. "Mary, do you want some tea?"
"Please, Mama. It is extra cold today, true?"
"Of course true," agreed her mother. "Here, sip on this."
Mary took the herbal brew from her mother and glanced up as mama sat down.
"What is it daughter? Since my return from the market yesterday, you have been lost in thought with this strange look about you."
"Oh, Mama. It will sound too unbelievable! I don't know how to say it."
"Don't worry, child. I am your mother. Let it tumble out; we can talk it through together."
Mary looked up and began to cry. "Oh, Mama. Something has happened that is so wonderful and yet so strange that I wonder if I imagined it." Little by little, she told her mother of the angel's visit. She described the promise and spoke of the strange stirring deep within her.
When she got to the part about being with child, though she was a virgin, her mother's eyes grew moist and she turned her head away. Finally, she said, "Mary, since I was a young girl, my Papa the Rabbi spoke of the strange promise in the book of Isaiah the prophet. He said, 'Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son.' That son will grow up to be our Messiah, Mary! Could the Eternal have chosen you to be His mother!"
Mary sat quietly for a long time, taking it in. Finally, she asked, "If that is the meaning of the angel's words, what am I supposed to do, Mama?"
"We have heard talk in the family about Elizabeth's pregnancy, even though she is old. Mary, you must see her. Your uncle and cousin are leaving for Hebron next week. You must go with them. I will talk to Papa and he will speak to Joseph."
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.