T’is the week before Christmas. Many of us are finishing up our shopping, busily wrapping gifts, and planning our “I still need to…” lists. It’s probably the last few days of school or work, and many of us will be welcoming or be welcomed as visitors in the days ahead.
Visiting is one of my favorite traditions of Christmas. We purposely make time to see family and friends who are important to us. We gather around the table or the fireplace. It’s a special time we remember through the seasons.
When we look at what the Bible tells us about the birth of Christ we can find several visits and visitors. This week let’s take a look at five visits and visitors of the Christmas story.
Beginning with Gabriel’s visit to Mary.
My curious mind craves to know the details of this visit. What was Mary doing? Where was she? How many times did she blink to see if he was real? But Luke doesn’t tell us. He does tell us a few things, like Mary lived in Nazareth and had been pledged to be married to Joseph.
In the movies this scene is portrayed as a beautiful moment with a calm and smiling Mary. But in the spirit of being real, let’s put ourselves in Mary’s place. Folding laundry and making beds in the house by myself when all of a sudden an angel speaks. No phone call to see if she was home. No car pulling into the driveway. No doorbell. An unexpected visitor in my ordinary day would not lead me to a peaceful smile and instant calm!
As if the element of surprise isn’t enough, Gabriel speaks with some intense words: “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.” The word favor here is the Greek word charis. It means grace or charm. Mary had been hand selected for this role because God saw her grace and charm in action. He had no doubts about her.
I am always amazed at Mary’s two responses to the angel. First, Mary simply asks about the logistics of how this will happen. She simply asks what to expect in order to do what he has asked her to do. She doesn’t ask about the impact it will have on her, her marriage to Joseph, or even what it means in for the Jewish people. She just wants to know how to make it happen. Her second response to the angel is full compliance. “May it be to me as you have said.” Whether it was fear or joy, she said yes.
Too often I want to know the big picture. I want to know how things will work, and what the final result will be. And then I want to pick and choose the pieces of my assignment I like. I want to choose the easy parts.
Not Mary. She agreed wholeheartedly. She gracefully allowed the God she loved and served to use her in the way he chose for her. She submitted to His way.
This final week before Christmas I want to be more like Mary. I want to forget my plans and welcome God’s unexpected without hesitation. I want to love and serve my God one step at a time.
As you walk through this week, look for the unexpected moments God plants in your life. Listen for your next step. Say yes to whatever he is asking of you this season- even if you don’t know the big picture. He sent Jesus as a baby through Mary’s willingness to serve. What will he do through you if you let him?