We all have a birth story, be it our own birth or that of our children. Sally had a C-section, Nancy went natural, Wendy did it underwater but Mary? She had her baby in a manger. A baby she named Jesus.
As birth stories go, Mary’s is probably the most famous. Like ever. And it wasn’t any walk in the park. In these modern times most of us in the western world give birth in our homes or in hospitals. Mary didn’t have the option to dash over to a suite a Cedar-Sinai, she had to give birth…in a manger! Which begs the question – what exactly is a manger. The only time we hear that word is in the context of Jesus’s birth. The American Heritage Dictionary describes a manger as “the ledge or projection in the end of the room used as a stall on which the hay or other food of the animals of travellers was placed.”
So. Mary is hanging in the manger giving birth… but it’s not on December 25th, the day we celebrate Jesus Christ’s birthday. There is much controversy about when he was actually born but many believe it was some time in March but there is no real data to support that.
Then, while she is giving birth, there are shepherds out and about with their flock. At night. Which is weird since the sheep usually go out and graze only during the daylight hours. But apparently as the book Luke says, “some shepherds staying out in the fields [who were] keeping watch over their flock by night” (2:8).” That’s when they met an angel.
Then there were the uninvited visitors. Mary had just given birth and there are these three strangers bringing her stuff namely, gold, frankincense and myrrh. What’s a baby gonna do with Myrrh?!?
In Matthew it states, “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star in the east, and have come to worship him.’” The jury is still out on the amount of magis who came to see the newborn, but since there were three gifts, many assume there were just three men.
So, you’re Mary. You just gave birth in something akin to a corral. Then three men show up saying they followed a star to where you would be giving birth and that you’re son is like totally important. These three strange men kneel down and pay homage to your kid. How much would that freak you out if that happened to you? But Mary, apparently she took it in her stride. After you have an immaculate conception anything would be possible, right?
What do you think was going through Mary’s mind while all this was going down?