The Christmas season goes from December 25th to the Epiphany on January 6th (though we are marking it today in Church – the 3rd). This season is a special time, when the Church remembers the birth and infancy of Jesus. To that end, I thought that a new mother might have some special insight for us. A big thank you to Shannon for sharing her reflections and prayers with us as we come to the end of Christmas.
As a new mother this year to our newborn son, Arnold, I can relate to Mary caring for Jesus in many ways. At times I have felt isolated in a year where a pandemic has restricted visits with loved ones and friends. I can remember feeling particularly isolated while in the hospital waiting for Arnold's arrival, as we were not able to have visitors, or even leave our room, for risk of contracting Covid and spreading it to other families or ourselves. My parents sat outside the hospital in the parking lot looking up at our window and waving. Isolation and fear has impacted me as I realize the importance of community in everything, from raising a child, to feeling love, and even the small but necessary things like grocery shopping. No doubt many of you have experienced this feeling of isolation this year whether you have a newborn or not.
I have tried, like many of you, to exchange in person greetings and hugs for online forums and virtual meetings. These are some things I do not think would have been part of Mary's journey, yet there was no doubt a form of isolation and a sense of “not knowing” that was a part of her journey. I wonder how that feeling of the unknown impacted Mary's life in those first days and weeks of baby Jesus' life, and before, during her pregnancy. Did she wonder why she had been chosen to bear the son of God on earth? Did she worry about her son's safety in a world that she must have known would not be easy for him? Surely, she did not have endless faith about raising her son in such a perilous time in history.
Or perhaps this sense of not knowing brought her closer to her faith. Perhaps, at its core, faith is a trust in something that we do not know. It is faith that brings Mary, and myself to an awareness that, despite not knowing what each day will hold, we will be held by the love of God. Perhaps this sense of loneliness pushed her closer to her faith in a way nothing else had before.
My hope for Arnold is that he can know he is loved by God and his family, despite the masks and screens in front of him that he has unfortunately had to know during this pandemic. I hope that Arnold can have faith, and know that behind those masks are peoples’ smiles, their blessings, and their love for him, just as Mary had for Jesus. That is my hope for our newborn son and for all of you in this little church.