Fall is always spectacular in New England. But now the leaves have turned brown and have fallen to the ground. And we brace ourselves, knowing what comes next. The winter will descend upon us. However, the bright spot of winter is the coming of Advent when we wait expectantly for the celebration of the birth of the Christ Child.
In our own family we are expecting the arrival of two new grandchildren. We anticipate their coming in the spring. I try to imagine their tiny faces and the joy my children will have when they hold those precious gifts in their arms. And I wonder if Mary felt the same as she awaited the coming of her holy child. I ponder that she had no help at Jesus’ birth. The scriptures don’t tell us whether or not another woman was there that Holy Night. Surely Joseph knew little about childbirth. Perhaps he sought help from the innkeeper or a local midwife. My grandchildren will be born in modern hospitals with the best possible medical care. No smelly barns or straw filled mangers to welcome them.
The story of Jesus’ birth is a strange one indeed. Joseph was there and did know how to offer love and support to Mary. After all, he was in on one the greatest secrets ever known. He knew well his roll in the miracle of Jesus’ birth.
Others were in on that first secret, too. Remember the shepherds on the hillside outside Bethlehem. The secret was given to them, not whispered, but in loud songs of praise by a large heavenly host of angels. The Wise Men in a far off land were in on the secret, too. It was given to them in prophecies, charts, and observation of the stars. Strange that a secret could be spelled out in the heavens. Of course, everyone knows the secret now. God has become man and dwelt among us. It is both our joy and our responsibility to share this marvelous secret with everyone we know!
According to the gospel of Luke, “I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people, to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, Christ the Lord!” It’s not a secret any more.