Thirteen Days Before Christmas


I’ve always loved counting down to Christmas. Perhaps it started when some advertising guru began the notion of x-number of shopping days left before Christmas. I had a junior high teacher who used to put the number in a corner of the chalkboard. Once or twice my family had those advent calendars with little numbered doors or windows. On the appropriate day, we opened the correct one to reveal some Christmas surprise.

I still love the countdown as an adult — even used the nimber on the chalkboard a time or two as a teacher. I think it’s fun. It builds suspense — the ticking clock writers so often employ. But countdowns fit Christmas naturally. We have Advent candles each week and the song about the twelve days of Christmas. Why not employ the practice here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction? So today there are thirteen days left before Christmas.

Imagine. Thirteen days before Jesus came into the world as a little baby. Had Mary and Joseph left Nazareth for Bethlehem yet? Was she walking, or riding, with a hand on her back to ease the ache pregnancy can bring? Were her ankles swelling? Did she have to ask Joseph if they could stop for a short break? Did they travel in the back of the caravan of pilgrims heading south, because pregnant women this far along were supposed to be in seclusion. What’s more, were tongues wagging about this loose woman, not yet married but nearly a mother?

Did either of them tell the other about the angel visitation they experienced? Did they try to tell anyone else, or did they think such a story would only bring on more mocking and perhaps accusations of heresy?

Did people feel sorry for Joseph, that hardworking, righteous man, clearly doing something noble by planning to go through with marrying this young, wayward, shameful girl, a descendant of King David who should care more for her good name. Or did his neighbors suspect that he was the actual father, and the unborn child was a result of a secret tryst he had with his betrothed before she left to tend to her cousin.

Ah, those days with Elizabeth. Did Mary tell Joseph all about them — about Elizabeth’s greeting, for example, or her own song of praise that came bubbling up from her soul? Or was it even from her? It was as much prophecy as it was praise, and who was she — an unmarried pregnant girl still living under the authority of her father — to experience such a thing? But there it was, words proclaiming God’s mercy and might and ultimately of His fulfillment of His promise to Abraham.

My soul exalts the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.
For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
And holy is His name.
AND HIS MERCY IS UPON GENERATION AFTER GENERATION
TOWARD THOSE WHO FEAR HIM.
He has done mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
And has exalted those who were humble.
HE HAS FILLED THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS;
And sent away the rich empty-handed.
He has given help to Israel His servant,
In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and his descendants forever.

Perhaps these were things to keep to oneself. Who would believe them anyway, though Joseph had been remarkable to protect her by not ending the engagement when he found out about the baby.

How odd to already know she was carrying a little boy. Jesus. That would be His name. Son of the Most High, the One to take the throne of David. How could this be? Any of it. The whole idea was a bit terrifying. And exhilarating. If only the back pains weren’t so sharp.

Thirteen days and counting.

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Published in: on December 12, 2011 at 6:27 pm  Comments Off on Thirteen Days Before Christmas  
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