Summary: The presence of God disrupts our plans and, like Mary, we must surrender our lives in order to fulfill His plan.
As I’ve expressed in past years…I love the Christmas season.
More than at any other time, I find during this season,. I sense God’s presence in the world…and with it, the significance of my own presence.
I’ve been reminded of the competing dynamics we all know so well.
It’s caused me to look into the great contrasts and paradox of all we celebrate at Christmas in the birth of Christ.
Christmas cards so often portray the peace of a new mother…the disarming nature of a newborn child (so vulnerable.) But there’s another dimension we must see as well…What ushers in the comforting comes by way of confronting every life.
What at once is disarming is equally disruptive…In fact, ready through the accounts, we find everyone has their lives disrupted. We can think of…
Zechariah…told he’d have a son long after he and Elizabeth (relative) had given up…a “prophetic voice” to prepare the way (…a pretty disruptive voice at that)…as a sign…mute…
In time shepherds…wise men (astrologers) from the east…King…BUT NONE MORE THAN MARY.
“In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendent of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greeting, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind o greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name 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 the house of Jacob for ever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon 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 nothing is impossible with God” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said. Then the angel left her.”
Here of course, we find the VERY HOPE OF CHRISTMAS…
1. The fulfillment of God’s promise to invade this world so desperately separated from Him; a promise to confront the injustice, despair, and death and destroy their power…, to provide new hope. It was a deep seated hope then(…Roman rule.) and still today (evening news.)
2. God’s PRESSENCE with us.
Story of stray dog who wandered onto our property… it was raining and he was cold, shaking, and obviously dying of hunger… but no matter how hard I coaxed he was still scared.
Perhaps that’s why God is willing to join us at very depth of human experience through Christ born into human life. This promise, this peace, this presence is indeed meant for all. BUT IF THAT’S TO BE OURS THIS CHRISTMAS, WE MUST CONSIDER HOW GOD WAS BORN TO THAT FIRST FAVORED WOMAN NAMED MARY.
WHAT WE FIND, IS THAT WHICH IS SO…COMFORTING IS ALSO CONFRONTING… THE DISARMING IS ALSO DISRUPTIVE.
1. The angel startles Mary emotionally with His presence and words (may not have been quite as Denzel Washington.)
DISRUPTS HER VERY PRIVACY…her sense of space…of safety. (Joke about “my wife” “Don’t do that.”) I wonder if some of us have similar expectations towards God? We say we want God to come close to us…to be in our lives…but we expect him to never startle us, we want to maintain our sense of privacy…space…Perhaps Mary needed to talk to God about “BOUNDARIES”…BUT SHE DIDN’T.
2. DISRUPTS HER PLANS FOR LIFE ENTIRELY! She’s “pledged to be married” = betrothed”; would last one year and was as binding as marriage itself…in fact it required a divorce to free one from this pledge…which is just what one could expect if they were to be found pregnant with child. So here she is, enjoying the most cherished plans ones whole life…the point in her live when she’s the center of her family and friends attention. NOW SHE IS TO BE THE CENTER OF THEIR SHAME AND SCORN.
….For that matter there’s Joseph…Even if they would stay together…soon there would be a cry piercing the air in need of attention…So much for their time together…As I’m beginning to learn, nothing disrupts life more than the cry of a little baby. And all this makes me wonder…Just how sacred are my plans to God. Do I presume God will honor them? Do I secretly expect that I can enjoy God’s presence in my life on my terms?. .without being disrupted?…Mary learned otherwise.