I watched The Nativity Story last night, or maybe I should say I cried my way through it. I've been touched by the wonder of the incarnation in a new way this year. It's left me asking so many questions.
As I watched the faces of Mary and Joseph on their journey of wonder, I felt like I was stepping into the moment as it unfolded. What emotions and fears does a young women experience as she faces the disapproval and ridicule of neighbors, friends, family? Yet in all of history she's peculiar in that she experienced the repercussions of unwed motherhood, while being innocent. How hard must that have been. Even she must have had moments of confusion and doubt while herself knowing the truth. What did the ensuing conversations with her mother, her father, Joseph look like? How does the God of the universe go about choosing a suitable mother for... himself?! Only by his unparalleled grace could she rise to such a task!
Then there's Joseph, his character must have been so strong. During the movie I think I liked watching his expressions best. You can see his face reflect his disbelief and hurt, then wonder at the truth, worry over his inadequacy, fierce determination to protect, tender love for his unusual young bride, and then the unbridled emotions of joy, relief, awe at meeting this little Savior that he would help raise. He must have wondered what it all could mean.
The birth of any baby is a transforming, mind boggling experience. But this, how can we ever begin to understand the importance of what our God did for us. Somehow, when I ponder such a mystery, I feel like my celebration of this amazing event is so inadequate. I can't fathom such determination. That God would satisfy his desire to love me by joining me in my sufferings, taking on my own guilt, turning his wrath from me to his very own darling Son. All for me, a betrayer, once his enemy. What kind of love is this? It almost frightens me when I think of it. I know it's for his own glory, but surely there are less messy and painful ways to glorify himself, apparently though this was the best.
And then there's the baby. As a mother I've sat for hours staring at the soft lips, round cheeks, delicate fan of dark lashes of my sleeping babies. Listening to the gentle sighs of their peaceful breathing, I've held my breath in wonder. Where did they come from?! How could I be so blessed. How much more miraculous and wonderful a God Child. How did he go about combining his infinite, uncontainable self with his limited, fragile creation? I will never know, but I will always be amazed. Was the Son aware of his new confinement? Did he know why he was there? Could Mary and Joseph tell there was something unusual about this baby? Or was he in appearance just like all the other babies born that night? A baby born in common circumstances, to common parents, in a common little town, yet greeted in a most uncommon way with angelic choruses, uncommon starlight, uncommon kingly visitors. What a combining of humble and glorious! Isn't that how it is for us. God takes our humble, simple selves and unites them with his holy, glorious self. And it was possible because of a baby, fully God and fully man. Wonder!