Are you looking forward to Christmas this year? Every year has its challenges. This year is no exception!
Mary had great expectations for her life as the time for the first Christmas drew nearer. She was a young bride-to-be with her whole life ahead of her. Then things changed. She was pregnant before the wedding and it was not her fiancé’s child.
Things got complicated. Joseph was devastated. He planned to cancel the wedding and their marriage. Their life together that Mary had dreamed about would apparently be cancelled.
But Mary knew that her baby was God’s handiwork. She decided to get away for a while. She went and visited her relative, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth was carrying her first child, a son who would grow up to be John the Baptist. Her pregnancy was also a miracle. The two women enjoyed a wonderful time of rejoicing together about God’s work. Despite any difficulties, they were confident about God’s plan for their lives.
Mary worshiped. Her words sound like a chapter from the book of Psalms. They are recorded in Luke’s Gospel (1:46-55). Mary’s hymn of praise begins with a personal cry of rejoicing: “My soul magnifies the Lord! My spirit exults in God my Savior!”
Next, she gives a reason for her worship of God: “Because he looked upon the humble state of his servant. For look! from now on all generations will call me blessed! Because he did great things for me, the Mighty One!”
Mary was surprised that God chose her to be the mother of Jesus. She saw Jesus as a tremendous blessing for which she was totally unworthy. Do we? We can learn from Mary’s humility. Her humble attitude fueled a great appreciation for God’s gift of Jesus.
In Mary’s worship, she remembered the promises God made to his chosen people. “He has helped Israel, his servant, remembering to be merciful, just as he said to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
Mary saw Jesus as proof that God fulfills his promises. When Mary visited Elizabeth, Jesus’ work of salvation was still in the future, but it was in the near future. The fact that Jesus would soon appear was enough to inspire Mary. Her heart was full of trust in the Lord who chose her to carry this baby.
Despite the unexpected changes and intimidating challenges, Mary rejoiced as the time for the first Christmas drew near. She knew that God was doing marvelous things that were far bigger than her personal struggles. No hardship could erase her joy.
Despite the unexpected changes and challenges of 2020, we can rejoice at the birth of Jesus. Unlike Mary, we can look back over nearly two thousand years of history and see the unmistakable evidence that Christmas changes the world.
God is always advancing his wonderful plan for our eternal blessing in the unfolding details of human history, whether those details are good or not-so-good. We can always rejoice at Christmas!
May God’s Spirit fill us with joy and peace this Christmas,