I just watched “The Nativity Story” on dvd. I’d borrowed it from my friend Julie nearly a year ago but never watched it until today. And I admit, I cried.
Just earlier today I realized there’s only five days til Christmas and I had yet to feel that Christmas feeling. That certain feeling of peace and joy that I get regardless of what’s going on in the world around me. That certain feeling that everything’s alright, even now. That certain, indescribable, feeling.
And I can finally say, while watching this movie, I found that feeling. It’s not about how many gifts we have or don’t have under the tree. It’s not about what foods we’ll eat this weekend. It’s not even about making it to Church on Christmas Eve with the family or visiting with friends through the week.
It’s just about… well, it’s about being still. And being at peace with whatever comes.
I adore this movie for how it portrays Mary and Joseph in their marriage. They’re in it together. He didn’t just hang on the sidelines while Mary and God did all the work. Joseph fought for her, protected her, cared for her. Accepted her completely. And gave his name to her baby.
Mary didn’t just follow him. She respected him. She got to know Joseph as a person, as her husband. She let him share in her pregnancy and didn’t shut him out. She needed him. She loved him.
Now, there are some Christmas stories that are so ingrained in my upbringing that even though I “know” them, sometimes to think about them takes me by surprise. And this movie did just that. I found myself realizing things I hadn’t considered before; things that made me stand more in awe of God and His power; and of Mary and Joseph, individually and together.
Mary could have, should have, been stoned to death for conceiving before her marriage ceremony. Joseph was willing to quietly walk away so that wouldn’t happen. After all, his reputation was on the line. Here he was, a Good Guy, and his betrothed is already pregnant! Mary didn’t have to return to Joseph. She could have stayed far away with her cousin Elizabeth. But that would have meant breaking her promises. And Mary was a Good Girl. So she returned.
After the Holy Spirit refreshed and instructed him, Joseph took Mary to be counted in the census at Bethlehem. And that’s when my thinking really started.
At the age of sixteen, this young woman is pulled from her family, from her mother and father. She is on a difficult trip with a man she hardly knows. And she’s pregnant. Who does she turn to? What does Joseph see in her? Did she cry herself to sleep out of fear and loneliness? Did she trust God completely and not worry at all? Or was it a little bit of both?
What went through Joseph’s mind? Did he know he’d be a good dad, because God Himself chose him for the part? Or was he worried? How did he comfort Mary, his wife yet a stranger, as she gave birth otherwise alone in a manger? Did he feel helpless and alone too?
At what point did Mary and Joseph stop being strangers in each others’ minds; and think of each other as husband-and-wife not in title, but in love?
When Jesus was born, how often did they cradle him and wish it could be different? That they could stop the world from invading their family, stop the evil that required the life of their son? And when the Lord’s Angel sent them to flee into Egypt, what did that do to their plans to return home to see Mary’s family again?
Did Mary ever wish it hadn’t been so, or did she always just say, “I am the Lord’s servant.”?
Here they are, parents to the Greatest Person Who Ever Lived, and they run in the dark, they flee into hiding. Their hearts are always burdened, always broken. Being the parents of the King is not always a joyous position.
But they did it.
No matter what.
They did it. They assumed their responsibilities. And they didn’t let God down.
I’m sure it wasn’t easy. It wasn’t fun.
But it was worth it.
It had to be.
They were parents of The King.
And Frankly, My Dear… that’s all she wrote!