I know I announced that I would be taking a few weeks off from the blog, so I will keep this short: I can’t get over the Christmas story! Yes, I’ve read it in Luke and in Matthew every year for 44 years but this year it is hitting me hard. I’m guessing that certain elements of the story stand out to each of us at different times in our lives. Thinking back to my first Christmas as a Christ follower, I remember being blown away by the sovereignty of God. I would wait for my parents to leave the house to go Christmas shopping and I would have that time alone to just worship God and spend hours in wonder and awe.
This year I can’t get over the angelic realm employed to celebrate and establish the big event. The supernatural birth of John the Baptist marks the beginning of Luke’s gospel. The angel Gabriel is met with distrust from John’s father Zechariah. He replies, “I am Gabriel, I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time” (Luke 1:19-20) Ok, boom. Note to self: when an angel speaks, believe him!
Gabriel is a busy angel because he soon goes to Mary and gets a completely different response. He said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Scripture tells us Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. Gabriel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:29-33) Ok, wow, think about that!
Mary has a pretty logical question for Gabriel: “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” It is okay to ask genuine spiritual questions! The heart of distrust and stubborn unbelief is where we go wrong. Gabriel replied to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” And here’s what I love: “I am the Lord’s servant, Mary answered. May your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:34-38)
This encounter, along with others described in Luke 1 and 2, carried Mary through many difficulties, all the way to the end at the cross, which was also the beginning. She took God at His word. Period. Was her life easy? No, I kind of don’t think so! She had to face false accusation and judgement that Jesus was in some way, illegitimate. But listen to her heart, written in her words of praise, a song recorded in scripture, the Magnificat: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is His name. His mercy extends to those who fear Him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.” (Luke 1:46-52) Keep reading Luke 1 and 2 to hear even more!
I am finding moments in the busyness of the holiday to give Him praise. Even a few minutes in the morning to say My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! I sense the nearness of the angelic realm and I wonder if heaven longs to release answers to the cries of our heart. This year I honestly couldn’t care less about gifts. I don’t care about parties or recipes or travel. I just want to hear what heaven has to say.
Dear friends, seek the Lord while He may be found. Center this Christmas on Christ alone. I’ll write more in the New Year. Till then, blessings on you and your household! If you haven’t gotten a copy of my book, please order it today! Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion.