It had been two weeks since she'd lost her child to miscarriage. It was torturous navigating the family Christmas gathering: the unrestrained joy of the young cousins, her sister holding her healthy two-year-old in her pregnant lap, trying not to look happy.
In her pain, she found a place for jealousy. Jealous of all the easy laughter, jealous of her sister, jealous of Mary's manger mothering.
"It's always a jolt," the pastor observed the Sunday after Christmas. "We go from 'Joy to the World' to all those slaughtered Bethlehem babies. We're not ready for all that blood and loss!"
She knew about blood and loss.
"But that's where Jesus enters in," the sermon continued. "Hope born into pain."
Tears coming now: "Are you still in my world? Are you still Immanuel to me?"
She sat there, sun streaming warmly through the stained glass angel to her right, hoping.
O holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray.
Cast out our sin, and enter in; be born in us today.
And on our dark streets shines your everlasting light—
the hopes and fears of all the years are met in you tonight.
Matthew 2:13-18 (NRSV)
13 Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him."
14 Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt,
15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, "Out of Egypt I have called my son."
16 When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men.
17 Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
18 "A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more."