In December of 2008, I was directing the church Christmas cantata while pregnant.
I was early pregnant. That means we still kept it secret and my clothing still kind of fit so no one could look at me and tell yet.
We had wrapped up the first ultrasound picture and planned to give it to our parents for Christmas that year.
Early pregnant also meant I was sick pregnant.
So, before I walked on the stage to direct the choir that night, my husband prayed for me and then gave me some practical advice, “If you need to throw up, just leave the stage and I’ll take over for you until you can come back.”
That’s love for you, right there.
Of course, since no one else knew I was pregnant, it might have looked more than a little odd to see the music director flee from the stage right in the middle of a song. We would have had some explaining to do.
I popped a peppermint that night and managed to get through the entire choral program without exiting the stage for a frantic run to the nearest bathroom. That meant we could keep the news about the baby safely secret until Christmas just as we had planned.
And I loved those secret days. There’s something intimate and joyful about tucking good news away and savoring it before sharing it.
This Christmas, it’s Mary on my mind as a I remember back to those Christmases I spent holding a newborn baby myself or preparing to share the good news about a baby to come.
I remember Mary who so willingly sacrificed her plans and agenda to submit to God’s will.
Mary who trusted God.
Mary who worshiped and declared “He has done great things!”
Mary who gave thanks.
Mary who “treasured these things in her heart.”
And Mary, who carried God Himself, the Messiah and Savior, within.
Maybe she had her own bouts with nausea, but she also had this closeness to God, the very closest a human being could ever get to the divine—to carry Him within.
But this is the beauty of Christmas for all of us, because Jesus came to earth to be reachable and touchable by us, as well.
God came near, not just next to us or before us—but to be within us.
Scripture tells us that we as Christians carry Christ in us to a world that needs Him so.
Paul asked the Corinthian church:
Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? ( 2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV)
And to the Galatians, he said:
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me (Galatians 2:20 ESV)
To the Colossians, Paul declared that this was a great mystery:
To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27 ESV).
This is how close God chooses to come.
There are days, maybe especially during seasons when we run about at a frantic life-pace, when God feels so distant, so far, so unreachable.
But I remember Mary. And I remember how Christ came within her. And how He comes to be within us.
That’s the joy of Christmas: How God broke through barriers and distance and the law and sin and death. He overcame all of that to be with us and to be within us.
Max Lucado says there’s even more to this promise:
“Christ grew in Mary until he had to come out. Christ will grow in you until the same occurs. He will come out in your speech, in your actions, in your decisions. Every place you live will be a Bethlehem, and every day you live will be a Christmas. You, like Mary, will deliver Christ into the world” (In the Manger, Max Lucado).
May we pause this season to ponder anew the promise of Christ within.
What a gift that He is with us everywhere we go, that He is near and He is reachable.
But also this: What a joy to deliver Christ to those around us, to share Him with others through word and deed.