LET us bring the women of that first Christmas to the fore!
We hear so much about the men – Joseph had to go to Bethlehem for the census; the Innkeeper gave a stable; the Shepherds heard the news first; the Wise Men brought the gifts.
Let us spare a thought for the women involved, for they add lustre to the story.
Elizabeth, the cousin of Mary, is a woman of that first Christmas. For her a miracle had happened. She had been childless for many years and now she was to bear the forerunner to Mary’s special child.
Elizabeth and her husband Zacharias had walked with God for many years, and had no doubt grown wise with wisdom which comes only from God.
When Mary came to stay with
Elizabeth, the wise and loving Elizabeth turned Mary’s anxiety into peace and calm. How lovely it was that Mary had someone like Elizabeth to come to, knowing that she would find understanding, sympathy and love – someone, too, whom she could talk to about the special origin of her baby.
Mary is perhaps the only woman in the story who gets reasonable mention – and so she should, for she was the mother of the Lord Jesus.
Mary was probably little more than a girl. From the moment it was known that she was “with child” her life must have turned upside down. How she must have had to cling in faith to the message of the angel that this child was God’s Son.
Instead of the happy pride and joy which surrounds most women when a first baby is expected, Mary must have met suspicion and black looks – perhaps even harsh words. It is no wonder that she went and spent three months with her cousin Elizabeth – she was bound to understand about Mary’s baby.
Then there was the long journey to Bethlehem. How tired and uncomfortable Mary must have been – and to find no room to stay in at the end of the journey must have been the last straw!
Then Jesus was born. Did Mary have another woman at her side to hold her hand, comfort and encourage her? Or was she all alone? How happy she must have been, though, once she held her special baby in her arms; and that pride and happiness must have grown as the shepherds came to look in adoration and wonder at this special child.
The innkeeper’s wife is not mentioned at all in the Bible, but we will assume she did exist. She, no doubt, would have helped to oversee the domestic side of the inn. Was she present when Mary and Joseph arrived? Was it perhaps she who suggested the stable because her heart went out in pity to Mary?
Perhaps she even sat with Mary as Mary gave birth to Jesus. It is nice to imagine that there was such a person who made Mary’s life a little more comfortable at that time.
Anna was a godly woman, a prophetess, who spent all her time at the temple. When Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus into the temple for dedication, she came and gave thanks to God. And spoke about Him as the special child who was to be the saviour of the world.
How Mary’s heart must have warmed as old Anna spoke about her baby. What a privilege Mary would have felt as her baby was blessed by such a godly old woman.
The women of Christmas are a colourful group of people. How lovely it would have been to have met them personally.
Mary was young, Elizabeth was middle-aged, Anna was old, and the innkeeper’s wife we know nothing about.
However, each one fulfilled her own ministry at that first Christmas time. – The War Cry, New Zealand and Fiji Territory.