Monday, 6 December 2010
My thoughts on Mary . . .
"And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee , named Nazareth. To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David: and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed are thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever: and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her. The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be bornof thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, they cousin Elizabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God, nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
I love the story of the Nativity, and it would be remiss of me, considering my faith, if I failed to mention this amongst all my other Christmas memories. I have long pondered on the subject of Mary and these are some of my thoughts.
We don't know if Mary's parents had stressed to her the great promise of God . . . that a Messiah would come who would deliver His people from bondage and oppression and that a special maiden would be chosen by God himself as the "virgin mother" of the child. We have nothing in scripture to indicate that Mary was in any way prepared for the announcment of the angel. We do however have her reactions to this amazing occurence. First she was incredulous. "How can this be?" And when the angel explained that the Holy Child would not have an earthly father, Mary, in humility and complete obediance to her Heavenly Father, said . . . in essence . . . "Let God's will be done, His plan be accomplished . . . be it unto me, according to thy Word."
This young, sensitive and spiritually devout woman was willing to be used by God . . . but, Mary's day was not our day. It must have meant dreadful shame, humiliation, misunderstanding, and a measure of fear and wonder, but she accepted her role, regardless of her situation.
How difficult would her sitation have been? With child, outside of the full marriage union, and betrothed to a man, joined in name only . . . she went through the difficult time of pregnancy without the imtimacies of a true husband and wife relationship . . . and . . . when the event finally took place, she was alone in a cold cattle shed. At the time when she was especially vulnerable and in need of the most tender care, she was on her own . . . as far as Scripture indicates . . . without even an attendant or a midwife to help her.
Though songs and pictures would have us believe that a gentle Joseph was standing by, Jewish law would have forbidden any man . . . even a husband . . . from being present at the birth. Was her labour long and difficult, brought about by the arduous journey? Was the crude, hard packed earthen floor rough and cold? Did she weep for her mother?
Luke says she brought forth her firstborn son . . . she wrapped Him in swaddling clothes . . . she laid Him in a manger. Mary was the one who delivered, who cared for her own needs and those of her infant baby . . . alone on that dark night in the distant stable . . . far away from her mother . . . far away from her bed . . . far away from her home . . .
As she listened to the night-time noises of a strange village, and hoped with all of her heart that the stirring of the stable animals would not press in too closely around her and the manger . . . did she hope that she had remembered all the rules for the proper care of a newborn? Did she long for another visit with her cousin Elizabeth? Did she yearn for the assurance that it really was as the angel had spoken? Did she wonder if she was in the middle of a bad dream from which she was unable to awaken?
Yet, the baby . . . her baby, was so beautiful by the light of the dim lantern. How she must have longed to share with someone the joy of giving birth to her first child. But there was no one . . . no one with whom to share.
Did she call for Joseph as soon as she had finished her simple ministrations? Were her eyes glowing . . was her face flushed as she looked on the new little form lying in the crude manger/cradle? Was Joseph able to respond to the wonder of the moment? Did he feel the freedom to place his arms around Mary and draw her close as they smiled down at their newborn child, tear heedlessly dampening their night-cooled cheeks?
Or, did Mary have to push her feelings deep within her troubled yet joyous soul, for no one else, no one . . . could understand the things she was feeling, she was alone . . . alone . . .
As a mother I think I may in some way understand some of the feelings she may have been having on that evening so long ago . . . and yet at the same time, the modern woman that I am is in complete awe of all that she went through on her own . . . and all that she had yet to go through . . .
If this piece read familiar to you, you would be right in thinking it's a piece I wrote on my old AOL Journal some 4 or 5 years ago now. I thought you wouldn't mind my reposting it, and there are, of course, some of you who would never have read it, only having recently found your way onto my page. I've been re-posting a few things in recent days from my old journal, because I don't want to completely lose them . . . and because I've been going through somewhat of a difficult time emotionally in these recent weeks with family stuff that I don't want to burden any of you with. I will be ok.
I had a few bananas kicking around yesterday needing to be used and so use them I did . . . and in a most delicious way! Sorry Todd! (It's chocolate.)
*Banana Fudge Cake*
Makes 16 servings
Bananas and chocolate go very well together. This is a deliciously moist and fudgy cake.
3 extra ripe medium bananas, peeled and mashed
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup butter, softened
3 large eggs
3 TBS amaretto liqueur, or ½ to 1 tsp almond essence
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 1/3 cups plain flour
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ cup almonds, chopped, toasted and ground
Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/350*F. Grease and flour a 10 inch tube pan. Set aside.
Cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, liqueur and vanilla. Stir together the dry ingredients and mix into the beaten mixture alternatively with the bananas. Stir in the almonds. Mix well and pour into the prepared baking pan.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in the pan 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.
To finish you can drizzle a glaze over the top and down the sides of the cake. (For a glaze I use a can of Betty Crocker Chocolate Fudge icing that I soften in the microwave for 30 seconds until I am able to spoon it over) Delicious!
In The English Kitchen today, Gooey Butter Tarts.