Summary: Mary’s Christmas means Merry Christmas to us.
Jim Merriam, of Tara, Ontario told this story:
After weeks of cancer therapy, my radiation technologist became concerned about redness and apparent burning around my waist. (Big crisis right?)They immediately sent me to an oncologist. When the doctor entered the examination room, he studied my chart, then looked at me sitting in the chair, fully clothed.
He looked back and forth, from me to the chart, a couple more times, then produced an instant and accurate diagnosis: “Your pants are too tight.” – Reader’s Digest, p.120X, Dec. 2001 issue.
Moral of the story: This Christmas you may experience a big crisis as u see redness or some apparent burning around your waist, as you feast, and feast and feast. So don’t go rushing to the nearest oncologist, I think they’d enjoy a Christmas break too, maybe it’s just that the waist has expanded and your pants are a bit too tight.
In a similar way, I think, Mary must felt a big crisis too, in our Bible text this morning. It’s like a “get me to the nearest psychiatrist” reaction. What’d u do I came and told u “I just saw an angel.” Most of us ordinary people would freak out or say “I think u better have a talk with Rev. Irwin Kujat, your area minister.” If things like happen, We’d say, is this a dream, is this real, am I stoned, too much turkey, maybe a bit too little coffee, too little sleep because I watched “How the Grinch stole Christmas” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” , and “A Christmas Carol” back to back to back in one night? Can u sense how Mary’s world was rocked?
All of sudden due to this angelic visitation, a huge crisis hits Mary’s world, and her world changed dramatically. As u look into her world and ours, it appears there are many similarities between our world and the world of Mary’s time. Her country was under military occupation by the Roman Empire, and that makes life kinda dicey. In our time with the terrorist attacks of Sept.11th we get a feeling that life now is a bit more dicey too. We see a bit more of the presence of the military in our daily lives, with longer waits at the borders and airports. We are beginning to feel some of our freedoms, which we may have taken, for granted may be in jeopardy, as parliament decides to take a tougher stance on terrorism.
There were lots of uncertainty and concern in the time of Mary as well. Her friends, family, and countrymen, suffered through some pretty unstable times, both politically and economically. And though none is mentioned in our bible text, I’m quite sure, the same maladies of tragedy, illness, death, and financial worries must have been a part of their daily and personal lives as well. For instance, the terror of the crosses hanging outside their towns reminds them each day of the brutal reign of terror of the Romans. As they look around them, there seems to be little or no control over their future. They could feel no certainty of what was to come.
Similarly, we are feeling much the same. In fact the whole world feels unstable. Could there be another terrorist strike, especially if you’re living in Israel? Could there be more anthrax attacks? Perhaps some baby boomers are feeling a bit more insecure when a big icon of our times, George Harrison, the ex-Beatle, has passed away. Now there are only 2 Beatles. Am I next to go? In the Toronto Star, reported on their website, merchants are reporting that sales are down since Sept.11th and Christmas sales have not picked up at all. There are lots of similarities in the days leading up to their Christmas and ours.
And now in Mary’s world, comes an angelic visit. As we read this story, it could have begun with “Once upon a time...” It sounds like a fairy tale or a tale right out of the X-files. Angels in Nazareth? May be in Anaheim, CA, but Nazareth, a town of questionable repute, for in those days people would say “Can anything good come from Nazareth (Jn.1:46)?
So we read of the angel Gabriel coming down to the countryside of Galilee. There he visited a girl - a young teenage girl - named Mary who was engaged to be married to a carpenter named Joseph. He came to bring her a message. Gabriel greeted this young girl Mary, as one who was favored by God.
But Mary was greatly troubled by this greeting from the angel. Now think about this, wouldn’t it be great to have an angel bearing a message from God come and visit you and give a message similar to v.28? Here u are confirmation, that there is a God, all questions about God answered, as you have the attention of an angel. After all, being specially chosen by God, and not just favored but “highly favored” isn’t that awesome? Today, many young aspiring athletes would die for such a recognition. This would mean big money, millions, yes a gargantuan contract, you’d be set for life! To be highly favored, perhaps the top 5 pick in the draft, the top five free agents, top five players in golf or tennis, is a most coveted favored position. This is the big time, instant fame and recognition! But can we assume those whom God favors will enjoy the good life as well: perhaps gain prestige, social standing, wealth, good health. Highly favored draft pick of God, wow, eh?