Christmas is drawing near and drawing us nearer to the One who came to live and die so that we can die and keep on living. Those who don’t share our faith are trapped in the chaos that challenges our advent season, but we who believe have faith that is firm and filled with joy.
Over two thousand years ago, God the Father looked across the land of Israel for a sacrifice. He was not looking for a ram or a bull or an unblemished lamb–He was looking for the right woman, the one who would contain His son in her womb–who could not be contained by the entire universe. He was looking for the woman who would give up her life that the life of His son could be born, who was already existing before all ages and time.
“Today Christ is born in Bethlehem of the Virgin.
Today He who is without a beginning begins,
And the Word is made flesh.
The powers of Heaven rejoice,
The earth and her people are jubilant;
The Wise Men bring gifts to the Lord,
The shepherds marvel at the One who is born;
And we sing without ceasing:
“Glory to God in the Highest, And on earth peace, (God’s) good will toward men” (a hymn from the Orthodox church).
Mary said, “Yes,” and Christ was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and her willingness. She would be branded a harlot. Scorned by her neighbors and ridiculed by her peers. Engaged to Joseph, she didn’t even know if he would stand by her. But he did. What an amazing story Christmas is, and what a time of new beginnings for us. We need only to look at Mary for a bit of inspiration.
This morning as I read Luke, Jesus had this to say: “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?” (Luke 9:25) I wonder what Mary thought when she heard Him say things like that? There she was, the “Mother of God,” and He’s teaching people, some older and some younger, how to live lives that have value and meaning. Maybe she thought, “Wow! That’s my son.”
She gave up everything–reputation, her marriage, her family, her friends and I don’t know how much more–to say, “I am the Lord’s servant, … May it happen to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38). Her answer was costly. She didn’t get Amazon gift cards for that one. She didn’t make friends and influence people (right away)–she got rejection and scorn, but her response to Gabriel changed the world.
That answer she made to Gabriel changed the entire course of her life, too. One. Simple. Answer. How will I answer when Jesus asks me the question we read in Luke 9? How about you? What have you got to say? What you say–decide–right now, can change the rest of your life. This Christmas we can choose to pursue goodies or to pursue God. Goodies make you fat. God makes you full–full of life, love, joy, peace and suffering.
When you get up tomorrow morning and you pray, ask God what to choose in regard to goodies or God. I’m almost positive that He will simply say, “Come, follow me.” Jesus said it to the apostles and they changed the world. When we follow Him, we certainly change our own world, but we also bring grace and love to others, changing theirs. That’s quite a Christmas gift to give.
Merry Christmas to all…