Autumn Leaves 3 Column

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Beneath the Shadow of the Cross

“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2: 19

For the first time in several years I’m actually putting up a Christmas tree! Now before you call me a Grinch, let me tell you that as an empty-nester, while married to a great guy, he is not a fan of decorating a tree. I honestly was just overwhelmed by the thought of doing it all myself and opted to not make myself any more frantic by not putting up a tree! But this year my son and his wife will be here for the holiday and I will have help with this great, but time-consuming, chore. I must be honest though and tell you that I really have not missed the extra work in the decorating for these last few years. For me, Christmas is truly about spending time with people I love.

For my spiritual nourishment however, I spend a lot of time pondering what life must have been like for Mary, Jesus’ mother. First, there is a visit from an angel telling her that she will have a baby…and not just any baby, But the Son of the most High God! Then she has to tell Joseph, her fiancé, that she is pregnant by the Holy Spirit. In His mercy, the Lord confirms Mary’s pregnancy to Joseph and Joseph marries her as planned.

Then they are ordered to report to their town of origin to be counted for a census. Joseph and Mary must travel to the town of Bethlehem to be counted. In that late stage of pregnancy, I can’t imagine having to travel any great distance by foot or on a donkey. I mean really, have you ever ridden a donkey? It’s not the most comfortable form of transportation.

Then there is the delivery of a baby in a barn with no one but Joseph with her. Mary’s probably only around fifteen years old, so that had to be frightening. Next there is this brilliant star hanging over the barn and angels are singing and then the shepherds show up to worship this child! How overwhelming for this “child” (in my mind) who has just delivered a child herself!

Yet we are told that she is pondering all that is taking place. She’s thinking about it, meditating on all that has happened. How many times has she thought about the visit by the angel Gabriel? How about the fear she must have felt in telling Joseph that she was carrying a child by the Holy Spirit? How about the mocking of the people in her village? How did that land on her? And finally, did she have any idea of how the life of this child would be sacrificed for us? Was she aware of the shadow that would be ever present, a shadow of a cross? What follows are my thoughts about that “shadow”.

Beneath the Shadow of the Cross


Gayle E. Dunphy

Precious babe, of virgin born; unique child, both God and man;

Newborn crying, early morn; epic pinnacle of God’s plan;

Placed within the manger dross in the shadow of the cross.

Angels singing, star so bright; cattle lowing, donkeys bray

Shepherds awestruck at the sight; Messiah’s coming, prophets prayed

Ours the gain, His Father’s loss, from the shadow of the cross.

Freedom for the captive gained; No more death, eternal life;

Lord the victory obtained; no more sorrow, no more strife!

Our hearts redeemed for such a cost, beneath the shadow of the cross.

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