“And just as the angel had sung his celestial song for her, she sang a song for Elizabeth.
‘My soul’, sang Mary, ‘O cousin, my soul doth magnify the Lord. My soul rejoiceth in God my savior. He is keeping his promises to me. Elizabeth, I am going to have a baby!’
So then – in the middle of the gloomy world there were two women laughing. They laughed til they couldn’t laugh any more, and then they began to weep for gladness.
And God looked down from heaven and saw them. And the Lord God smiled.”
So writes Walter Wangerin, Jr. as he re-tells the Christmas story in his book, The Manger is Empty . In these lines, he captures the spirit of Advent—the Old Testament anticipation of light while in darkness, and our own expectation of salvation amid desolation. I encourage you to borrow my copy and read this story for yourself, along with the many other profound pieces in this small book.
It is my hope and prayer that you will all experience such laughter this Christmas. We can easily turn our celebration of Christ’s birth into a somber contemplation of the theology of the divine made human.
We can hear the voices, can’t we?
“Yes, we are celebrating Christ’s birth, but this is serious business!”
“Enjoy the presents but don’t think of them in church as we hear Luke 2 being recited.”
What I love about this story that Wangerin unfolds in the pages of his book, is the story of an authentic Mary who knows the anticipation of the Jewish nation as any child of the synagogue should. On these pages, she experiences the epiphany of what the angel’s message truly was—that God’s ‘Good News’ had finally come; that the miracle of a virgin birth is the first light in a dark world; that she was going to have a baby!
That surprise, that delight and that darkness-shattering ray of hope is in the heart of our Christmas celebration as well. I hope you catch Mary’s excitement and wonder again for the first time this Christmas!