I was just a simple Nazarene woman who grew up knowing about God and his commandments. In fact, God’s commandments were a core part of our culture. I learnt early that it’s a thing of pride for a woman to remain pure until marriage and I decided to please God by doing so.
Honestly, it wasn’t easy staying a virgin. I knew other women who had graced the bed of men they weren’t married to with their bodies, and they still ended up getting married before me. I had friends who tried to convince me that there was no use keeping myself. I almost gave up at some point because I wondered if there was actually any value in waiting. So you can imagine my excitement when Joseph proposed to me. Joseph wasn’t just any man. He was from a peculiar household; he was a Descendant of King David. Coupled with that, was the fact that he was reputable, hardworking, and God-fearing.
His proposal was the best thing that ever happened to me and I thought that was the best thing that would ever happen to me. I thought Joseph’s proposal to me was God’s way of telling me ‘well done’ for waiting, I didn’t know that was just a tip of the iceberg. I remained a virgin, patiently waiting till our marriage so we could consummate our love. I was going to prove to him on our wedding night that I was a woman of virtue.
One cold evening in Nazareth, I was sweeping my bedchamber when a very bright light shone before me. I was petrified and I nearly passed out. Before then, I knew God but I never had any special experience with him. I didn’t even think there was more to God than obeying his words and getting scared whenever his name was spoken. I thought I was dreaming when I looked into the light and saw a beautiful figure. He introduced himself to me as Gabriel; an arch angel of God and He told me I had found favour in God’s eyes.
“Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty. Beautiful inside and out!! God be with you.” His voice echoed.
I wondered why he greeted me with such words. How could he call me beautiful? How could God think I was beautiful? I was just an average looking woman and my figure wasn’t as attractive as that of several women I knew in Nazareth. I wasn’t good at adorning myself with dazzling garments and ornaments, the way other women did. So, how could an angel of the ‘God of Beauty’ call me beautiful? I took his greeting as a mock and my fear intensified. Had I done something wrong?
Angel Gabriel noticed that I was scared and he spoke again.
“Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus. He will be great and be called the Son of the Highest. God will give him the throne of his father David; He will rule Jacob’s house forever. There will be no end to his kingdom.”
I knew better than to doubt the word of God. I was excited by the news because I thought that meant that my marriage to Joseph was guaranteed by God and I was going to bear him a great son. I felt happy until the Angel burst my bubble and told me I was not going to be impregnated by Joseph.
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you; the power of the Highest will hover over you. Therefore, the child you bring to birth will be called Holy, Son of God.” Those were his words.
My excitement turned into worry. I had kept my virginity for Joseph for so long and I had been waiting to prove to him that I was a virtuous woman. I didn’t know how I was going to tell Joseph that I didn’t sleep with another man; it would sound ridiculous. No one would have believed that my pregnancy was divine. The angel proved to me that nothing is impossible with God by reminding me of my cousin Elizabeth, who conceived a son in her old age after everyone thought she was barren. I knew it was God indeed and I knew he was going to work everything out for my good.
“I’m the Lord’s hand-maid, ready to serve. Let it be unto me, just as you say.” I said to the Angel, and then he left me.
It happened just as the Angel said and I became pregnant. I couldn’t hide it for too long. One afternoon when Joseph came to visit me, I was cooking when I suddenly felt nauseous and I threw up about three times. Joseph was worried about me and he wanted to call a physician but I begged him not to. I disclosed to him that I was pregnant and it was by the Holy Spirit, but he did not believe. Joseph was displeased with me but being a noble man, he was determined to handle the situation discreetly so I would not be disgraced. He still loved me but he kept away from that day; I was confused and all I could do was pray to God to prove my innocence.
While Joseph was trying to figure out a way to cancel the marriage without raising people’s suspicions, God intervened by appearing to him in a dream. He said God’s angel told him in the dream to go ahead and get married to me. The angel informed him that my pregnancy was spirit-conceived and that I will give birth to a son whom he would name Jesus because he will save people from their sins. The Angel confirmed to him that it was a fulfilment of the prophecy. Joseph did exactly as he was commanded and we got married but we decided not to consummate the marriage till I had the baby.
When my pregnancy was almost due, that was when Caesar Augustus knew he will order a census to be taken throughout the Roman Empire. Everyone had to travel to his own family hometown to be accounted for. Joseph and I had to travel to Bethlehem in Judah for the census; as a descendant of David. When the order was announced, I told Joseph that we should leave town immediately, so that we can get to Bethlehem early enough to secure a hotel room but we had to go a few days after because he had some furniture deliveries to make. By the time we got to Bethlehem, all the hotels were fully occupied and we didn’t know any relative around. By that time, I was already in labour so we settled in the manger where other people kept their horses. While we were there, I gave birth to a beautiful son whom I wrapped in a blanket; the delivery was so stress free, I knew the child was indeed special. As I looked upon the child, I knew certainly that the Lord had favoured me. The baby looked extraordinary.
While Joseph and I were still rejoicing, shepherds who were camping in the neighbourhood came to celebrate with us in the manger. They said God’s angel appeared to them where they were watching over their sheep and told them about Jesus’ birth, including where to find us. The shepherds let loose; glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen.
I kept all these things to myself, holding them dear and deep within myself. In the end, I had no regrets for staying pure till marriage. I felt honoured that God chose me to birth the Saviour of the world! Merry Christmas!!
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