Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Babe, the Son of Mary

What Child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary's lap is sleeping?
Whom Angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.

He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.

After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.

(Isaiah 53 and What Child is This)

I was listening to this song on the radio this morning (What Child is This) and two things struck me: 1. The irony and sadness of the honor Jesus deserved and the honor we actually paid Him and 2. Mary's response as a mother to Jesus' crucifixion (that we don't know much about it).

My baby, June, has been sick the last few weeks with a cold and an ear infection. I've had lots of time to hold her at night and rock her and also to think and pray about her future (after I finally remember in my sleepy state that Allen is working and will not be getting up with her as he usually does!). It's in the moments when my children seem the most innocent and helpless that I sometimes look with fear into the future. I won't be able to protect them forever. Lord, please keep them from pain and suffering and harm.

But, in my heart of hearts I know He won't. Whom of us has been spared any pain or suffering or harm? Whom of us hasn't had our hearts broken, ignored, or "held in low esteem." If we are honest, we all have been hurt and harmed by other people, whether intentional or unintentional. It is the sad state of our hearts. We all have been tainted by sin and we feel the effects of that.

So, once I admit that my children have and will inevitably experience pain and suffering and some degree of hurt I wonder what I should pray next? I can't protect them forever. I couldn't keep Joseph with us forever or keep cancer from ravaging his beautiful life. Just the thought of it is too much to bear.

Where do we go with this unspeakable fear and sadness? As a mother, how do we fearlessly entrust our children to God's hands, knowing full well it won't be a bed of roses? How did Mary accept the beautiful gift of being the mother of God, knowing His life would be full of rejection and pain and that He would be taken from her and crucified on a cross?

I have looked through the Bible and I just can't find much about Mary in Jesus' later life (I am no Bible scholar, so if I'm missing it please let me know) or how she responded to His crucifixion. But I can imagine the intense pain, horror, outrage and anger. This child, this perfect son, whom she nursed and held and raised, treated as a lowly criminal and killed publicly for all to see. With no honor or respect or glory. The King of kings and Lord of lords, her own son.

The only thing I can think of is that she knew He was God's Son first. That yes, He was her son, entrusted to her for a short while, but ultimately His purposes were so vastly beyond just the short while she had Him in her home.

I know it is not really accurate to compare our own children to Jesus, because He is the Savior of the world and our children are not, but I think the idea still applies. That our children are gifts given to us for a short while, but their purposes and lives are God's and He is trustworthy to keep them safe. And not safe as we imagine safe, but safe in His love and safe for eternity in His hands. That Emmanuel, God with us, applies to all of us. Even in loneliness, sadness, and fear, God is with us. In the midst of a sinful, painful, fallen world, the beauty of Jesus can shine into our hearts. He is with us if we confess our need and open our hearts to His forgiveness and grace.
This Christmas season, (and every Christmas season) I find myself distracted by buying gifts, getting to the post office, checking everything off my "to do" list to be "prepared" for the big day. I am not focused on Jesus and I truly feel my heart "is deceitful above all things and beyond cure." But the Good News is that we do have a beautiful Savior who sacrificed for us and lived a perfect life in our place (by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities

In our busyness and distraction He still calls to us. He is Emmanuel, God with us. May He be with you and me this Christmas season.


suzannemorris said...

Thanks Gill....for taking the time to meditate on the deeper things (when you could be sleeping or wishing you were sleeping or flipping on the TV to mindlessly pass those late night hours)....and for sharing with those of us who are not up at night comforting babies but instead are up worrying about teenagers whose fearful future is rushing at us.

Brea said...

Beautiful thoughts, Gillian. It is so helpful (and simultaneously hard) to remember that our children belong to Him. What would we do without the hope of eternal life?

Heinzfeet said...

So very thankful for your heart and the Truth you allow God to pour out through you. I needed to read this today. I wanted to call you this morning. I'll call you soon. Love you!

Carolyn said...

Written beautifully Gill

Anonymous said...

Gillian, thank you for these beautiful words and for pointing me to the Cross...Kathy

Nana Bear said...

Amazing reflection Gill.I think Buddy Greenes song Mary did you know somehow lets us see what we dont know.I dont think Mary fully understood.I just u tubed him singing Mary did you know that your baby boy....... and just cried.I am grateful I am able to go to Nicaragua next week with David the week before Christmas to be with the poor and the orphans and the hungry it will help me to put life back in perspective and focus on our savior.We miss you all so much especially Joe P.

abbiegrace said...

beautiful words, Gillian--words which point me to the Savior.
Thank you!

Have you ever heard this song by Sara Groves:
"Prayers for this Child"
It's powerful. It touches on what you mention in your post about knowing that our children will encounter difficulty & suffering in their lives.
It's on as a digital download...the album is Station Wagon.

Jean Joiner said...

thanks for sharing, gillian. i read this while feeding little liam. great to put things in perspective.

susan and brian said...


susanbrian said...


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Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

I always wonder about Mary too. I liked that so much of Mel Gibson's Passion is told from her perspective.

You know when Mary takes baby Jesus to be consecrated and Anna sees him, and Simeon tells her that "a sword will pierce your own soul too" - the word for sword there is a double edged sword, the sharpest sword available.

I always wonder what she thought then, proudly holding her brand new baby, being told that because of her precious baby her heart was going to be ripped in two.


Sarah-Jane said...

Oh Gillo. You need to write a book for me. Thanks for your words.
I love reading your thoughts and your feelings.
YOur insight is amazing.

I love you.

scott cunningham said...

Loved this so much. I may have to fly you down to Waco to do our advent devotionals in the Cunningham house. I can't pay you much, but you're welcome to whatever we have in the fridge and pantry! :) god bless you and your family and your friends, Gil and Allen. I am grateful, so grateful, to have been able to share this journey with you.

Christy said...

Oh my. If only I was better at this. I find myself fearfully praying for His best above my own for my wee ones, knowing that if I could have my way I'd turn them into self-important shallow wackos. I hope my prayers are (or maybe will be?) sincere.

Thanks for sharing, Gil, as always.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted you to know that I was thinking about Joseph today and wondering how you all are doing. Hugs and prayers for you. Natalie McLaughlin

Sarah Partain said...

these are great thoughts, especially coming from you. there are times that i want to keep amos and flannery safe, but i know that amos has already been through trials and i am reminded that when i can't protect him, the Lord does and i can trust in that. this makes me long for heaven even more!

Tiffany C. said...

Thank you for such a beautiful post.

Kara said...

I have thought about this so many times. So many times we equate trusting God with outcomes we want (safety). Pray God would be near you and bring comfort.