One of the wonderful aspects of pregnancy is the delicious anticipation of meeting and getting to know the child growing in your womb. With the first baby, ignorance shades all your daydreams in a beautiful rosy hue. But with subsequent children you have more of an idea what a precious individual each child is (and how they really are born with a sinful nature!).

Despite my determination to avoid the whole Christmas thing, the experience of being “great with child” at this time leads my mind to thoughts of how Mary would have been feeling at this time of her pregnancy — how she was anticipating the arrival of Jesus.

Mary would have grown up hearing stories of the coming Messiah. His arrival — leading to freedom for the oppressed Israelites — was long sought-after and much debated. People had been speculating for centuries about what life would be like after the Messiah set them free.

And then Mary heard the message:

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Can you imagine? For hundreds of years your people had been anticipating someone’s arrival, and you are the one carrying him in your womb! Mary’s heart was certainly bursting.

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for He has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.”

No doubt Mary believed like most of her generation — that the Messiah would establish his kingdom through political upheaval. Did she lay on her mat at night, picturing her son leading armies into battle against the Roman oppressors? Did Mary envision him sitting on a throne in a palace, while she stood back in the wings and watched Jesus dispense long-delayed justice to the people?

And when the child finally lay in her arms — the Son of the Most High — and she fed him from her breast, crooned Him to sleep with lullabies of her own childhood and soothed Him with Aramaic motherese, what great dreams did she harbour in her heart? We watch our children grow up and speculate about their talents, inclinations and futures. It wouldn’t have been different for Mary.

I have a knack of growing very special children in my own belly. But Mary grew the King of kings in hers! As a mother, doesn’t that strike you as amazing? How much greater would have been Mary’s anticipation and fears?

Jennifer Knapp wrote a beautiful song called Sing, Mary, sing! that encourages me to further speculation about Mary’s experience. We’ve been listening to it a lot lately. And it was playing in the shed while the girls rode their bikes around.

Mary had a baby born in a manger
Mary, what to do, Mary, what to do?
Before the vow was made,
In your belly laid — the King!
Sing, Mary, sing
Lullaby the King
Born to be our pardon
No longer shall we weep
Come soften what was hardened, girl
Sing, Mary, sing!
Herod with a vision out with a vengeance
Mary, what to do, Mary, what to do?
Flee to Galilee
Raise your baby King — of kings!
Mary, in your mornings
Turn now as you weep
Look to see a Saviour
O, sing, Mary, sing!
Sing, Mary, sing!