December 25, 2021
Scripture: And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”… And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1:34 and 38 ESV
Observation: Can you imagine Mary’s encounter with the angel Gabriel, what she must have thought and felt when he told her that she would give birth to the Son of God? Initially frightened, her fear turned to curiosity and then to submission. But more challenges lay ahead for the mother of Jesus, beginning with a quick exit to Egypt (when King Herod learned of the prophecy and location of the Christ-child). Then, at age twelve, Jesus would give his mother the scare of her life. On the return trip from Jerusalem to Nazareth, the second day, Mary realized that Jesus was not with their traveling van. Once found in the temple, Mary could breathe again, knowing her boy was safe and sound.
But two decades later, what started as treasured memories of her boy’s birth in Bethlehem, and continued with fond childhood recollections in Nazareth, ended with a nightmare at Calvary, where Mary’s soul was pierced (as the prophet Simeon foretold, Luke 2:35). However, redemption and hope would soon triumph from the grave. Mary’s sorrow would turn to joy when she learned of her son’s resurrection. Still, this would be a brief earthly reunion. Mary would once again give away her son to the world, that he might ascend to his heavenly realm and assume his rightful place of authority over all creation.
Takeaway: For Mary, John the Evangelist would later comfort her with all the heartwarming stories of how Jesus’ disciples (and even two of her other sons) would risk their lives to grow the Church worldwide—all made possible by her firstborn and, in part, by her humble submission to the will of God. For us, the path behind and ahead has similarities. We all lose loved ones that we sorely miss (whether by death or by relocating to places far away from our homes). And like Mary, we need to hold them loose in our hearts, because we are merely “servants of the Lord,” submitting to his will. Still, like Mary, we all need family and friends to comfort us, whether by sharing cherished memories of those we have lost or by telling us of how they had impacted others’ lives. And even if our memories are not particularly uplifting, we are invited to recall the Christmas story and see our beautiful Savior, born a helpless babe who would one day restore hope and perfect peace to our hearts.
Prayer: Father God, as we reflect on the birth of your Son, we thank you for sending him into our world to live and die for us. Would you please help us follow Mary’s example and submit to and serve you so others might experience your Son’s peace and hope through us? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling