Summary: Instead of following after the "power and prestige of the world" how about following the humility of Christ?
I visited with an incensed high school student last week. Apparently her father had decided they weren’t going to get a Christmas tree or put up any of the other usually seasonal decorations. Instead they would have “Birthday” balloons and a birthday cake. And the presents would be arranged around the cake. Now I don’t know if he was teasing her or not but I have to appreciate his desire to get off the hamster wheel of the hollowness of the holiday and to once more start pursuing our stable-born King.
When Walgreen’s have their Christmas tinsel out before Halloween it’s hard not to think about how commercial it’s become. Our the retail economy of the world’s greatest nation banks on post-Thanksgiving Day sales numbers to “make it” its hard not to complain about the marketing of the season. Stan Freiberg’s song, “Green Chri$tma$” doesn’t seem far off the mark. It’s not only the battle for our bucks that should concern us. It is the entire way that our focus has been pulled off of Jesus.
I did a review of holiday specials for December 2-the 16th. These don’t include all the “musical” specials or worship services. They are the run-of-the-mill specials we saw as kids and subject our grandkids too. I counted 62 totals in those two weeks. Of these only four had any direct reference to Christ, scripture or searching for a baby. Others with spiritual themes were a little over 11% of the shows. The two biggest groups were the Christmas “feel-good” love stories at 17% and those dealing with Santa, reindeer, snowmen, and other cartoon figures like Johnny Bravo and Scooby-Doo. They were almost 55% of the specials.
Don’t get me wrong, re-runs of “A Walton’s Christmas” or watching Tim Allen in “The Santa Claus” aren’t bad. There are staples to the holidays that many of us enjoy, look forward too and emotionally need if we’re going to celebrate. We don’t have to toss out the holiday faire in order to make Christmas the Holy Day it is meant to be. We don’t even have to rid ourselves of the tree, lights and tinsel and put up lawn signs declaring “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”. What is needed is to redirect our attention and our goals on seeking after Jesus, our stable-born King.
Mary is an example of how one chooses to be receptive to the coming of Jesus. She has every reason to be nervous at the words of the angel. It’s not doubt that causes her to ask the obvious question, “How can this happen? And I’d imagine it’s not without some hesitancy that she answers the angel in verse 38, “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever He wants. May everything you have said come true.” She is willing to be part of God’s plan for saving Israel and the world. This one who is Messiah, is the one Mary would have heard about from Isaiah. For God’s Spirit would be a spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge and fear. This is nature of the coming king. He would be just, powerful and freeing. This coming one would usher in the fullness of God’s kingdom where the created order is made alive again and set right. Who wouldn’t want to be part of this future?
Mary accepts her role in God’s work; our question is how do we accept the place God has set for us? How can we set aside our trivial pursuit of what the world promises power and prestige? Our world wants us to seek after the promises of a “better tomorrow” focused on what’s best for us rather than what’s right. Our culture promotes political and social agendas that get TV time and great sound bites. “Get us out Iraq and things will be better. Wipe out Iraq and things would be better. More taxes, better infrastructure, less taxes, school vouchers, this or that person, policy and program and then our world, our city, our state, our family would have what it needs to live for Jesus.” But would it? Remember the 50’s when every church was busting out at the seams? What happened? Denominations went after the political prize and some congregations followed. Individual members got swept away in their desire to “make their mark” on the world and left Christ behind.
The answer to our life issues is found in asking God where He wants us and giving Him permission, like Mary, to do His will. It’s found in going to him humbly in prayer. If your prayer life has become a time of whining at God about how unfair life is or giving Him a “to-do” or “wish” list of what He’s suppose to accomplish for us we need this even more. When was the last time we ever sat in silence before Christ and prayed, “Lord, what do you want me to give You for Your birthday?” What do You want me to do? What do You want me to become? In my life, where do I need to change the way I’m living? Let’s take a few seconds and do that right now. It may seem like a long time but consider it a lesson in patience!