FACES OF THE CHRISTMAS STORY: Mary

“…In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary.” Luke 1:26,27

 

One thing we do know about Mary is that her surname was definitely not ‘Christmas’! (Blessed are you if you did not get that terrible pun. My sincere apologies if you did)

But what do we know about the girl chosen by God to be the mother of His Son?

Based on the age of betrothal in those times, we can say she was a teenager. Some believe she may have been from David’s line, like Joseph. Some believe she may have been a Levite, like her cousin Elisabeth. But not much attention is given to her heritage in the accounts. It shows the common ground, that the criteria for God using a person to bring forth His purposes is not dependent on their heritage or experience. Could God have used just anyone to bring forth his Son in this world?

But then, Mary was not just anyone. There’s a lot we can learn from her actions and words.

When the angel told her that she would bear the Son, she believed. She asked how it would occur seeing as she was a virgin and unmarried, but when the angel explained she submitted to God’s will. “I am the Lord’s handmaiden,” she said. “Be it unto me according to your word.”

Oh, if we would have such confidence and trust in God’s Word. Usually, the things He wants to birth in us are much bigger than us or our current circumstances. Yet He calls those things out of us, bringing them forth through us. Ours is to believe His Word, His promise, and trust that He will bring it to pass.

We should always remember that God’s Word and instructions also embody the enablement to bring it to pass. When God said to the first man, “Be fruitful and multiply,” it was not just an instruction. It was a blessing that brought the fruitfulness and multiplication into action. He told Abraham, “Walk before me and be perfect.” He determines the terms of His Word and its fulfilment. His Word is spirit and life. And as such, when His word goes forth, there is the enablement and power in it. Actually, His Word is the power itself. The Gospel, for example, is the power of God unto salvation. Anyone who hears and believes it is saved.

Mary responded in faith to God’s Word.

 

But when she heard it, who could she tell? She was going to give birth to the Son of God? It sounded like a poorly constructed fairy tale, like a young girl’s fantasy. Who could understand this? I am sure she had some questions. She probably felt alone.

The angel had said that her older cousin, Elisabeth, was also pregnant. Mary took the trip immediately to meet her. Elisabeth was six months pregnant already when Mary arrived. When she did, Elisabeth’s baby leaped in her womb. And she exclaimed in blessing, confirming what the angel had told Mary, calling her the mother of her Lord. Mary was encouraged.

In bringing God-ordained ideas and visions to reality, the right association is very important. Surround yourself with, and esteem highly the friendship with people who share your faith and values. Stay in the company of those that have gone some way in the path you are just setting out on. What they have learnt will build you up, and what you bring to bear will strengthen them too. This is fellowship, and is what brings forth growth and inspiration. Like Hebrews 10:24 and 25 tells us, “…let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works; not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together…”

 

Elisabeth’s words sparked a song of praise in Mary. The enormity of what God was doing was impressed greatly on her and she could see how great God is, and how little she was by herself, and the grace in His workings in her. The more we look at what God is doing or has done, the better we will see and know Him, and His love for us expressed in His grace towards us will engulf our hearts and how we view ourselves. She saw herself in God’s eyes. That in the stretch of time and eternity, the Almighty God had chosen her to be His channel to bring forth a blessing to all mankind.

 

She would still have more children – some of which would be instrumental in Christ’s church— but even to this day, Mary is still noteworthy for the Son that came forth from her. He was the one that defined the rest of her life. In the final analysis, only the things we did that were a part of or in alliance with God’s purposes will count. With God as our priority, everything else falls in line. He defines what else false into place. And we can be sure that, if we major on what counts in God’s eyes, we would live as He made us to. And that’s the best we can ever be.

 

Before I round this up, I’d like to highlight something my sister pointed out to me this morning. Mary’s visit with Elisabeth showed that she esteemed family as important. At Christmas, many of us will return home or receive our relatives at home. Family reunions can be really fun in some places, but also awkward at times. There’s the aunt asking why you aren’t married yet, the uncle who only wants to debate about politics, the sibling who you always end up arguing with, the neighbour who always seems to show up when food is served, the brother-in-law or boyfriend still trying to get the family to like him, the grandma giving her grandkids too much sugar and trying to keep their parents from disciplining them too hard … (these are all just stereotypes I picked off the top of my head). No family is the same, so if you were worried that your family does not look like a Hallmark movie family just know that you are not alone. It is the weirdness factor, or difference, that makes family that much more interesting and special. No matter how weird your family might be, value them. God used them to bring you forth into what and where you are now. Value that at least. There is so much treasure in each and every one of those lives, more than you know.

There may be some relatives you might want to avoid because they hurt you in the past, and I understand that. But make sure you pray for them. God’s love through you could mend relationships and make for an even more fruitful reunion.

Still, even beyond Christmas, value family. Both the family of birth and the family of choice: friends, church, colleagues, sparring partners on the basketball court. Every relationship is a chance for something good to spark in the hearts of others by association. The spark could be an idea, a thought, a decision, a lesson, or just plain fun. And if you have Christ in you, He can cause a spark that can turn into a glorious fire.

I’ll leave that to speak for itself.

 

2 days to #Christmas

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