Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pregnant

One of the interesting things about Advent is that we start with the story of Mary, or perhaps Elisabeth, move to Joseph, then by the time Christmas comes around, are in Bethlehem in some barn or cave or other kind of enclosure where a baby is born among animals.  Every year it's as if we live through the fastest pregnancy on record, like one of those "I didn't know I was pregnant" reality shows on TV where some woman was camping and accidentally had her baby in an outhouse in the wilderness. When I was a seventh grader, a woman friend of our parents went to the doctor one day with indigestion and came home seven months pregnant.  A few weeks later my parents were informed that the adoption agency had a baby boy for us, and we could pick him up in ONE WEEK.  My mother lost a whole clump of hair that week, trying to get everything ready for a baby, who became our brother Andrew.  However, having been upfront and intimate with three pregnancies, I can tell you such things are the exception rather than the rule.

No, pregnancies take a very long time.  And, considering that the woman in this particular case was informed of it at the exact moment that conception happened, we can assume this pregnancy took nine months.  I mean, if God went to all the trouble to Incarnate Himself as a human baby, He certainly wasn't about to shortcut the process.  So nine months. Forty weeks Mary carried God in her womb.  Interesting, perhaps one week for every year the Israelites wandered in the desert. And while that baby was being built in the secret place, as Psalm 139 says, Mary's body was also changing to accommodate.  Perhaps for the first few days after her conversation with Gabriel, she wandered around in a daze, uncertain of what had happened.  But she knew before anyone else that what Gabriel had told her would, had happened.  Her body was changing.

As I said, nine months is a long time.  The mountain-top experience of Gabriel's appearance, her hymn of praise, and the first moments, gave way to weeks and months.  People distrusting her story.  Her parents, maybe.  We know for certain that Joseph didn't believe her.  The other day Jonathan and I had a conversation about the difference in the faith of Mary and Joseph in those first pregnant days.  Mary knew--absolutely knew--that she was a virgin.  She knew that the Angel of the Lord had come to her and told her that she'd bear God's Son.  Joseph?  He had no such knowledge.  Not in the beginning.   Then he fell asleep and God spoke to him in a dream.  Confirming Mary's story.  "Don't be afraid to take Mary for your wife."

It takes God to speak in order for us to believe.  This was true for Mary and true for Joseph.  We spend a lot of our lives trying to figure things out.  Making plans, tallying up pros and cons, using our brains to reason out the best decision. But if we've ever answered the call of Jesus to follow Him, we get it.  He calls, we answer. And I think we forget this.  We aren't willing to wait the length of a pregnancy for Him to appear if it takes that long.  But if the story is true, if a young girl who had never been touched, became pregnant with God Himself, then our faith is true.  Either it is or it isn't.  And if you believe it, you have to be willing to live like you mean it.  That is, when you're pregnant with a dilemma--when you're waiting for the right answer for your life--let Him be born before you move.  That is, ask Him to speak.  And trust that He will do what He has always done.  He speaks to His followers as they wait for Him.

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