Advent Day 16
When the Angel appeared to the Shepherds in the field at night telling them they did not need to be afraid they suddenly became aware they were not alone. In that moment, their hearts were filled with the awareness of the presence of God with them.
Their initial thought was confusion and surprise but the first words the Angel uttered to them was “fear not”. In that sacred moment everything for the shepherds changed. The message the Angel delivered to them would have given them great joy and hope.
The shepherds were told that a child had been born in Bethlehem, the city of David, and the child was the Christ…the one they had heard about who was promised.
They had heard the words in the Temple all their lives. Examples include Micah 5:2, Isaiah 7:14: 2 Samuel 7:12-13.
In Luke 2:12-14 we learn, “And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
There is evidence that the Shepherds who heard the message that night were shepherds who guarded the Temple sheep that were unblemished.
The sign the Angel told the Shepherds about was that they would find the baby wrapped in swaddling cloth in a manger.
So, it makes us wonder how Mary came to have the cloth used on Jesus?
Was it simply cloth from old clothes that had been torn and washed?
But the cloth could have been given to Mary by her cousin Elizabeth when she visited her. Elizabeth’s husband Zachariah was a priest in the temple and the cloth would have been used in the field to keep the lambs free from blemishes.
If that was the cloth used in the manger it would have been a cloth that protected the lamb.
After all, when Mary visited Elizabeth she would have helped to prepare her young cousin for the coming child. We know Mary was younger than Elizabeth and she would have helped Mary get ready for the baby’s arrival (https://steppesoffaith.medium.com/the-real-truth-about-the-shepherds-on-that-first-christmas-night-c32296181a27).
It seems fitting that the swaddling cloth was used to keep the babe warm in the manger.
Because the cloth meant something to her after the birth more than likely Mary would have laundered it, carefully dried it, and placed it in a special box for safe keeping.
We have to think that as Jesus grew strong and tall, Mary remembered all that transpired that night and she told her boy about the miracle of the Angel announcement.
She would have told Jesus about the swaddling cloth. She would have told Jesus the boy that the Angel specifically said they would recognize the baby wrapped in the special cloth.
Possibly on the day of His birth, Mary would find the box where she had tucked away the swaddling cloth and she would hold it and remember the first time they wrapped Him in the cloth.
Mary would have remembered that night.
Years later even after Jesus left Nazareth to go out into the world on His own, Mary would have remembered the special night Jesus was born.
Mary and Joseph probably heard the song off in the distance from the great multitude of Angel hosts who praised God and sang:
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Even when Jesus was off in Bethany or in Cana with His disciples, she would remember and she would think about the song and the cloth. She would remember the cloth that protected her boy when He was a newborn babe.
Mothers remember those moments like no one else on earth can.
That’s because a mother knows.
Mary knew her boy, Jesus.
She knew God called Him for a special purpose.
She knew the cloth that protected the lambs meant something special.
Someday, she knew she would understand everything and it would make perfect sense. Until then she was grateful for the memories of Jesus’ birth on that special night. She was grateful she was given the cloth so her baby would be warm in the manger.
Knowing that a whole host of Angels sang a song of glory on the night Jesus was born made her smile. She was really glad God took care of everything that night.
She knew Jesus came to accomplish something no one else could do, and she was sure that one day it would all make sense.
She knew from the moment she conceived Jesus that God had a perfect plan and at the right time it would all make sense.
Spiritual Practice: Remember
Think of Jesus the newborn baby in the manger. Thank God for the plan.
In God, Deborah