Now, I know that may sound cliché. All new mother say that, don't they? But I really mean it, literally. He wasn't conceived in the normal way nine months ago. No, though I was betrothed to be married a man had never touched me. I was tending the garden for my mother one day when I was suddenly blinded by a searing white light. It seemed ages before my eyes finally adjusted and when I saw the source of the light my heart leapt into my throat and stopped. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't blink. I must have been quite a sight, kneeling there with my mouth agape.
"Don't be afraid," the angel said. Don't be afraid? Don't be afraid! I thought. A messenger of God Almighty Himself is standing in my garden and I'm supposed pretend that I'm not afraid? Uh, not happening! The angel introduced himself as Gabriel and calling me by name he said that I was the most blessed of women, because God's favor was on me. This statement didn't really allay my fear, it just mingled confusion and shock with that fear. Me, favored among women? A fifteen year old girl plucking weeds out of the family garden, blessed? Those words just didn't do justice to my gangly, awkward five-foot-two frame and sunburned freckles. But I kept listening.
"You will conceive and bear a son; His name will be Jesus. He will be great and called Son of the Most High. God will give Him the throne of David His father, and He will reign over Israel. His kingdom will never end."
Gabriel hadn't gotten past "You will conceive" before I was struggling to stand, thinking I had heard him wrong, and by the time he uttered the phrase "Son of the Most High" I had been knocked back to the ground, literally. I just sat there stunned until he finished. His silence almost said, "Are we all clear?" Uh, no, we were not "all clear"! Something told me that Gabriel knew who he was talking to, I mean, he was a messenger from God and had called me by name, but did I know who he was talking to? "I'm fifteen, and I'm not married; how is this supposed to work?" Well, I'm pretty sure I said something like that, but apparently they've managed to make me sound a lot more eloquent than I actually was.
Gabriel wasted no time in explaining. "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, your Child will be holy - the Son of God Himself." Wait, I had read about the Holy Spirit. He was the Spirit of God who came upon great men of faith like Gideon, Samson, King David, and the prophets of old. Wasn't the Holy Spirit a bit too holy to waste His time with fifteen year old girls picking vegetables on a Tuesday morning?
I think Gabriel sensed my disbelief, because he shared news of reassurance. "Your relative Elizabeth is actually six months pregnant, even in her old age. Nothing is impossible with God." Ah, the wisdom of an angel. Those were the words I needed to at last allay my many fears. Even in the midst of doubt, confusion, and disbelief God was sovereign, and though I didn't deserve it He had chosen me. For the first time since Gabriel had addressed me as "blessed among women" I lifted my sunburnt and freckled face to meet his shining one. With as much confidence as I could muster (which wasn't a lot) I said, "I am the Lord's servant; let Him do to me everything you have said." As soon as the last words left my mouth I felt a burning sensation in my abdomen and a cool peace in my heart. My son had been planted within me. Then, just as quickly as he had come, Gabriel was gone.
The next nine months were far from easy. My family didn't believe my story; my fiancé Joseph planned to divorce me and it took Gabriel's intervention through a dream to convince him that I was telling the truth. Then Caesar announced a census and Joseph and I both had to travel all the way to Bethlehem just weeks before the baby was supposed to come. I was experiencing the first pangs of child labor when we approached the City of David. Because of the census there were no available rooms for us, and the best thing we could find was a common stable. I laughed in spite of the pain. The stable at home had been one of my favorite places as a child; oh, how long ago that seemed. Sometimes I would spend the night there in quiet reverie.
So, I gave birth to my son last night; my son, Jesus. He's asleep in the feed trough right now, and the morning sun is just beginning to make the straw glitter like gold. It was a long night. We had a visit from some shepherds as well. I'm exhausted, but I had to put in writing what I've been treasuring up in my heart. Maybe now that I've gotten it out I'll be able to sleep. He's perfect, He really is. It may not mean much to you or I now, but I know it will one day.