Have ya’ll ever been pregnant? I bet you have. Yes, even all you men out there reading this.
Ok, so there’s baby pregnant but I’m talking about another kind of pregnant. A pregnant pause. A pregnant pause means to be rich in significance or implication. It’s the pause that builds suspension in the listener or viewer for a greater dramatic effect of what follows after the pause. Some of the best storytellers know how to use these pauses strategically. We’ve all be privy to the bad storyteller who skips to the punch line way too soon (cough cough, me) verses the person who knows when to wait, pause, and allow tension to build before delivering the punch. That my friends, is the pregnant pause.
By this definition, Mary was double pregnant. She was pregnant with Jesus, yes, but she was also carrying a pregnant pause. The suspension of when Jesus would come was prophesied long before Mary was even born. Isaiah 7:14 says, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
And now, in this time in history, Mary was the culmination of centuries worth of expectation.
Luke 2:5-14, 19-20
5 … Mary, who was pledged to be married to [Joseph] and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Questions to Consider
- How do you think Mary was feeling amidst this “pregnant pause” as a young woman, not yet married, traveling in her final weeks of pregnancy?
- Reflect on Jesus’ life and ministry on earth. Why does it now make sense that the angel would describe his coming as, “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people?”
- What does the celebration that we see in this passage say about the expectation and birth of Jesus?
- In this season of advent, what does it look like for you to hold in tension the reality of your circumstances and hardships with “the good news that will cause great joy” in this season of remembering Jesus and the promise that came with His coming?
One of the things that has caught my eye studying Luke 2 this advent season that hasn’t in previous years is the tension between hardship and joy. We know Mary is young, pregnant, and not yet married. In 2019 when that happens, people talk. So in the time Mary was living in, people were probably extra with the gossip. I thought of young Mary, who knows the truth of the glory of God growing inside her womb holding the tension of her reputation being tarnished and her physical body in pain as she makes a displaced trek to Bethlehem only to be met with a full inn and an empty barn to give birth in.
The holidays can also be filled with this tension of joy and yet be a reminder of hardship. Whether that be a broken family dynamic you are navigating, a recent loss you are grieving, or even the impending struggle of seasonal mental illness that knocks you down every year. We might all be standing in this pregnant pause, of knowing the reality of our current circumstance while also knowing the tremendous joy and celebration that comes with the truth of Jesus coming into the world.
We see that joy culminate in this passage. Can you hear it? Can you see it? An angel declaring “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” A great company of heavenly host that appears with the angel that sparks a celebration of praising God and saying “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those whom his favor rests.” Seeing Mary treasure all this joy within her heart. Hearing the shepherds returning to glorify and praise God after being told this would happen. You see, people have been in this pregnant pause. Waiting, praying, watching out for the prophecy to be fulfilled. It was a longer than usual pregnant pause but one worth every second, minute, day, week, month, year, decade, and century.
Here we are again, pregnant. Waiting for Jesus’ return to bring us all home to be with Him. If you are like me, you might be sitting in this pause amidst hardship. But like Mary, let us hold on to the hope and truth of Jesus remembering that in this advent season she was able to withstand her hardships because she knew of the hope that lived inside her. Let us all hold fast to that promise of hope and remember, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those whom his favor rests.”