I feel that sometimes we get very familiar with scripture. I know that I do, I can read something again and again and I don’t always stop to think about what is happening.

We tend to think of the birth of Jesus as just that, the birth. We might think of the angelic encounter at the start, and maybe her visit to her relative Elizabeth, but nothing else. The story jumps immediately to the journey into Bethlehem, but that is 9 months later. That is a whole lot of unaccounted for time, about which we can only speculate. But based on what we do know about the culture and human nature we can make some accurate observations.

Mary would have been the talk of the town. Behind closed doors conversations would have been going on about how Mary got to be pregnant. Was Joseph the Father? If not, then who was? How could they have done such a shameful thing. Mary’s family would have been confused, how could such a pure girl suddenly be with a child? Where did we go wrong. Blame and shame were being passed around like candy.

It is in moments like these that you need a word that sustains you. A word that keeps you, and Mary had just that. She had the encounter with Gabriel, and the incident with Elizabeth. She held onto these things for that was all she could do. She was a virgin and was pregnant. She may have been naive but she would have known how babies were made. She was frowned upon by the community for she had broken the law, they may have not said anything but she knew what they were thinking. She lived with this throughout her life. How could she explain that she hadn’t done anything wrong, if anything completely the opposite. The battle against shame was only won because she had a word, and to that word she clung onto. She couldn’t deny what had happened, the very largeness of her stomach was proof of that.

The word came and she was pregnant. The word sustained her through the pregnancy until the birth, and in my view afterwards too. There are many things that God would do with us during our lives, and sometimes they may seem impossible. But we have to hold onto his word, as that is what will bring the promise to birth. It is his word that will sustain us when all around things seem to be to the contrary.