Christmas Eve in our home is an unrushed and unhurried day.
For many, the day before Christmas is a day of reflection and anticipation. We go to church and enjoy a service that celebrates the birth of Jesus, who we believe to be our Saviour. We feel a rush of excitement about what is to come, but enjoy the simple moments before Christmas Day arrives.
I can’t help but wonder what the first Christmas Eve was like.
I imagine a young Mary, scared but also excited. She was probably beginning to feel contractions, and her husband may have begun to worry about where their first child would be born. I’m sure that both Mary and Joseph experienced a mix of emotions, but I picture their faith sustaining them and giving them peace and calm.
Like any young couple about to welcome a child, I am sure there was a fair amount of nerves. This time, the stress would be heightened, with no place to stay and rest. Mary’s family was not there to help her deliver her first son. No midwives to attend the birth and ensure the baby arrived safely.
The Bible doesn’t give details about the actual birth of Jesus. We know that the couple was in Bethlehem, where Joseph’s ancestors were from. Mary and Joseph were far from home, and only had each other and their faith in God.
Little did Mary know that she would be surrounded by love the following day. People would travel far to visit her son, and a choir of angels would announce the birth of the Messiah to nearby shepherds.
In 2017, we have the entire picture, but on the first Christmas Eve the scene was just beginning to unfold.
Tonight as I lay my head on my soft pillow, my heart full of joy, peace and anticipation, I will think of the first mother who went before me. She would become the mother of the Messiah, she would see great miracles, and experience the pain of losing her son and saviour on the cross.
Mary, a sweet and faithful young woman, chosen to carry God’s only son. I wonder if she could have imagined that tomorrow she would be holding the light of the world in her arms, mother to God incarnate.
And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed,for the Mighty One has done great things for me — holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” - Luke 1:46-55