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A Child with A Child

Published: Dec. 21, 2023

Our neighbors Kevin and Jessica and their daughter Sophia dropped by our house with cookies on Christmas Eve last year and stayed a while for conversation. Sophia is fourteen and takes care of our cats while we're away, so Maggie greeted her with enthusiastic purrs, and Sophia spent most of the rest of their visit cuddling Maggie on her shoulder, girl and cat together forming a perfect picture of mutual bliss.

Sitting in waiting worship at South Mountain Friends Meeting on Christmas morning, meditating on the Christmas story, I thought of Sophia with Maggie and had a sudden realization. Jesus was Mary's firstborn: whether or not you accept the theology of the Immaculate Conception, that much of the story seems true. In the Middle Eastern culture of that day, and in the remnants of that culture that still exist in our own time, girls married young; almost always by 16, often younger. Mary was not much older than Sophia - if any - when Jesus was born. Cuddling her infant on her shoulder, Mary must have looked little different from Sophia cuddling Maggie on her shoulder. And that casts a whole new light on the scene around that manger 2000 years ago. Think of any 14- or 15-year-old girl you know and place her in Mary's position in the traditional portrayal of Mary and Joseph and the Baby surrounded by barnyard animals and shepherds and angels; not acting the part in a Christmas pageant but for real, with all the mess and pain and roller-coaster emotions that human birth always brings forth. There are very few single events that can be pointed to as hinges of history, but this was one of them: a child bearing a child, in poverty, bedded down in a borrowed stable, far from home. And there is miracle enough in that fact to give me hope that - despite all the misunderstandings and wars and hate that have accompanied our very human disagreements over the legacy of that one obscure birth - love will eventually prevail.

from Bill Ashworth, South Mountain Friends Meeting (12/23/2023)

Topics:  Health & Family