I was nearing my ninth birthday, and it was the time in childhood when seemingly insignificant experiences begin coalescing into memories that will stay with us for the rest of our lives – like the sweltering summer day when my best friend and I sat on the sidewalk in front of the parsonage where my family lived. After trial and error, we found a limestone rock, and we practiced drawing stars on the concrete. We had learned a new method, two inverted triangles rather than the star formed by an unbroken sequence of five lines. A lady came up the sidewalk and smiled at our work. She was older than my mother, a member of that indefinable period of womanhood that exists somewhere between the age of mothers and grandmothers. “Are you Jewish?” She asked the two of us. We stared at her blankly. “That’s the Star of David,” she explained. “The Star of my faith.”
I looked at my friend. I could see that she didn’t know any more about Jewish faith than I did. So we sat in silence. The lady shrugged her shoulders and kept walking.
There was a missing link in the chain. We were connected to the lady who paused to talk to us, but we didn’t quite know how we were related.
The woman stopped because she wanted to know if we shared a common bond. When we didn’t reply in the way she expected, she just kept walking. She didn’t recognize anything familiar or familial about us either.
We were strangers.
She went off to live her life. We kept playing on the sidewalk in front of Faith Wesleyan Church and the pastor’s house on the corner of 2nd and Walnut Street.
Today, I know what the missing link is in the chain that connects me to that woman. In the fullness of time, God’s Son entered the world, born of a virgin. The Blessed Virgin Mary is the link. From the House of David, God raised up a poor and humble girl. And she became the Mother of God himself!
Every Advent, I haul the boxes up from the basement, and we begin trimming the Christmas tree. Many years ago, I bought a handmade Star of David from a Jewish glass artisan in Atlanta, Georgia. The Star is cobalt blue. It’s stunningly beautiful, yet simple and unadorned.
I carefully open the tissue and find a place on my tree for the Star, with its two triangles – bearing the same image of the star my friend and I scratched into the sidewalk so long ago. And I think of the woman who paused and asked, “Do you know what you are drawing?”
Each Advent, I glance at the figures on my mantel shelf, and I see a young woman peering over an empty manger. She’s waiting for something. She’s waiting for God’s promised Son. And then my eyes go to the Christmas tree, where my blue Star of David hangs on a branch. The string of Christmas lights plays off the smooth handcrafted glasswork. And I realize that I have an answer for that woman who paused to talk to me on the sidewalk in front of my dad’s church in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
“Yes, I know what I’m drawing. I am connected to you, dear-lady-with-no-name. And you are connected to me. Your daughter has become my mother.”
Like two triangles intersecting.
The Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14