Knowing Our Part (12/11/11)
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”Mary was a young girl that had a set of expectations, hopes, and dreams (a path) for her life. But, with one brief moment / interchange with the angel, all of these things were gone and she was told that she would have God's baby (and the world would have expectations of this baby). Mary was "most perplexed" (i.e., freaked out) by the news that the angel brought her.
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him 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 Jacob’s descendants forever; 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 on 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 unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. (Luke 1:26-38)
Her life was turned upside down / completely changed... she was now faced with the path that God lay before her, a life that she had not chosen. But, amidst all of the change and chaos, Mary said, "Here I am, a servant of the Lord. Let it be with me not according to my way, not to my desire, not to my plan, not to my list of right and wrong, but let it be according to God."
The Christ-child didn't just change Mary's life... he changed everyone's lives. That's the Christmas story... an encounter witht he Christ-child is supposed to change us - to change the way we think things should be, the way we want to organize things, the paths that we've set out for ourselves, and the journey that we've picked for out lives. When we encounter the love, grace, and forgiveness of the Christ-child, we're supposed to say, "Here I am, a servant of the Lord. Put me on whatever journey / path you want. Put me in whatever circumstance you want. I'm not going to try to do things my way, I'm going to do them your way, God.. not my way, but your way."
Christmas is supposed to change, and we're supposed to be different because of it. If we really find the truth in Christmas (the joy, hope, peace, and love), we can't keep going down the same path we've always been on... we can't keep living life the way we want to... we can't keep assuming that we have the right answers and that we know what's best... we have to change in the face of the light of Christ, and say with humility, hope, and joy: "I'm scared to death to not do things my way, God. I'm perplexed at how I can possibly live life on your journey instead of my own. But here I am, a servant of the Lord, send me."
Mary wasn't "qualified," per se. But, she had a willingness, an open heart to do things God's way, not hers. That's what God is looking for! He's not looking for us to be perfect. He's not trying to call those that have it all figured out. He's interested in those that are willing to say, "I'm scared to death. I'm perplexed. But here I am, a servant of the Lord... use me."
All of the chaos and busyness of life tends to get in the way of us being as open and willing as Mary was. We get uncomfortable with all of the complexity and change around us that we become rigid. It's engrained in us that we're supposed to have all the right answers, but we forget that God is the only one that does. We become so commited to the path that we've set for ourselves that the idea of getting off that path and doing something different (even if it's an angel telling us to do so) seems crazy to us. Even when God brings opportunities to us, we're often too busy on our own paths that we don't even see God's path / opportunity right in front of us. We mustn't let the opportunities to be the light and the hope of Christ slip right by us because we're so caught up in thinking we have so much to do and that we have all the right answers.
I pray that we might have the eyes and the ears of a child. That we might finally come to understand that there's more... more to this life... more to Christmas than just a day. It's about seizing the opportunities in front of us and saying (like Mary), "Lord, here I am, your servant, use me."
Stay tuned for Part IV (The Sounding Joy) of "Journey to Christmas"