Labor of Love – Andrew Peterson/Jill Phillips (2004, Behold the Lamb of God)

Click on image to listen to song for free.

We return today to our collection of Advent songs, focusing in on the dear duo that served as Jesus’ human parents for a short while.  Mary and Joseph have a story unlike any other in all of history, and it is a beautiful piece of the Nativity majesty.

We also return to the well of Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God Christmas album, which features the perfect song for our subjects.  This song is delivered vocally by another excellent musical artist, Jill Phillips.  This tune expresses logical, yet emotional realities of the story of Mary and Joseph that are not explicitly stated in Scripture, but they are certainties for us to cling to as we try to relate to this unique story.

Labor of Love:                                                                                                                          It was not a silent night
There was blood on the ground
You could hear a woman cry
In the alleyways that night
On the streets of David’s town

And the stable was not clean
And the cobblestones were cold
And little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
Had no mother’s hand to hold

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love
Noble Joseph at her side
Callused hands and weary eyes
There were no midwives to be found
In the streets of David’s town
In the middle of the night

So he held her and he prayed
Shafts of moonlight on his face
But the baby in her womb
He was the maker of the moon
He was the Author of the faith
That could make the mountains move

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love
For little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face

It is poetry put to strings of endearment that accomplishes something special, from my perspective.  Most other Christmas songs can carry along a more formal, or at least gleeful, response to Advent.  There are very few that hold together in good balance the messy chaos of the logistics of that night along with the holy, awesome reverence of what that night signified.

Luke 2 records the events for us from where we derive many of these assumed conditions for Mary and Joseph: such as the discomfort of the stable, isolation of a young, ostracized  couple, difficulties of any child birth (let alone one occurring outdoors), and the expected overwhelming emotions of being the human parents of God!  Sometimes we sing our well known carols and retell the biblical account without really meditating on the gravity of these features for Mary and Joseph.

It really was a labor of love!  And Joseph didn’t even get to see the fruits of his labor, in terms of being around Jesus’ adult life/ministry and work on the Cross.  So often, we are expected to serve God in ways that challenge us.  And sometimes we don’t experience the fruit of that work, at least here in this life.  And yet, we are called to serve for the sake of our love for God and what He has already done for us out of unmeasurable love and grace.

This is a season where we are asked to give or donate more often than other times of the year.  I hope that whatever giving spirit comes over us as we engage these opportunities this December are born out of a genuine love for God and His ways – instead of trying to help our year-end tax status or feeling the generic peer-pressure from the ringing bells in front of stores and receiving massive amounts of support-request letters.

Give because God gave first and gave most.  Give because you recognize the understandably difficult nature of love – that it should cost something.  It cost God everything.  It cost Mary and Joseph more than we could comprehend, but as much as we should be able to relate to.  Let your December be marked by inspired labors of love; for you never know what the seeds you sow may lead to.  After all, that baby Jesus was/is
the Maker of the moon, He was the Author of the faith, that could make the mountains move.”

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