4th Sunday of Advent | December 19/20, 2015

Before reading on, you can take a look at the readings here. This reflection focuses on the Gospel reading.

As we wait for these final hours of Advent anticipation to transform into Christmas celebration, I cannot help but wonder what it must have been like for the very pregnant Mary in those hours before the first Christmas. A teenage first-time mother, a growing sense of urgency as she and Joseph approach Bethlehem and realize that most of the inns they pass are at capacity. What was going through her head? Was she timing her contractions as they walked to the city of David? Was she wondering what the plan was?

Having given birth to my second child just over six months ago, the hours before my delivery are still pretty fresh in my mind. The anxiety and nervousness that comes with not knowing — not knowing what my body can handle, not knowing if the baby will cooperate, not knowing how things will turn out.

I remember looking over at my husband, grateful that he was with me at every step and recognizing how powerless he felt in the face of something in which he was an observer, at best.

I remember reading emails and scrolling through Facebook and seeing all the comments of encouragement and reminders of how many people were praying for us.

I remember the sense of anticipation, knowing that in just a few short hours, my months of (uncomfortably) bearing the weight of my growing child would pay off and I would finally get to meet her.

I wonder if, in those hours before Jesus’ birth, Mary recalled the visit from the angel Gabriel. The promise that her baby would be the Son of God.

I wonder if Joseph encouraged her as they walked, as he silently prayed for a safe place for Mary to give birth.

I wonder if Mary recounted her visit with Elizabeth to Joseph, as she described her older cousin ready to give birth any day now.

I wonder if she recalled the words Elizabeth spoke to her. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.

I wonder if Mary, even after having a supernatural encounter with a messenger from God, even after witnessing God’s faithfulness to her cousin Elizabeth, even after being reminded of God’s promises throughout history, was still scared.

I wonder if she was anxious and nervous about the unknown — about never having given birth, about the prospect of raising the one who would be called the Son of God.

I wonder if she wondered, whether God had meant to choose her, if she was the right choice.

And so as Advent comes to a close, I invite you to wonder with me, about what the courage of a teenage girl, over 2,000 years ago, has to do with you. I invite you to wonder about those moments before bringing Christ into the world — those scary, joyful, anxiety-inducing, beautifully messy moments — and see that we are all called to be courageous, to choose to step out in faith in the face of the unknown. We are all called to believe that what the Lord promised would be fulfilled, so that we too might bring Christ into the world.

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