God has been merciful to you
Christians enjoy Christmas best when we remember the wonderful mercy God has shown to us throughout our lives. As you begin to look back on a year gone by, please take time to notice that God has been merciful to you. He has not treated us as our sins deserve. Instead he has forgiven us for his own name’s sake. Rejoice in what God has done!
“Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.”
At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”
And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers.”
What would Christmas be like if you had been Mary? Would you have wondered if the things people told you about Christmas were true? Would you wonder how to be a parent to a child who is also your God? Would you wonder if you had misunderstood the promises given to you about Christmas and the things God had told you? We all know what it’s like to be disappointed when things don’t happen the way we expect. You have to wonder what Mary thought when the angel, Gabriel, told her that she would give birth to the Savior of the world through an immaculate conception. She was told that by the power of the Holy Spirit her virgin womb would be the vessel for the birth of the world’s only Savior. What should Mary believe about that? From the word of God today, may we be encouraged to …
Have a Christmas like Mary
Believe what God has said
Rejoice in what God has done
After the angel Gabriel told Mary God’s plan for bringing Jesus into the world, Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” She believe what God had told her. But she also needed to talk to someone who could help her understand what was happening. The angel had told her before leaving that her relative Elizabeth “was going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” Who better to encourage her for what lay ahead than Elizabeth!
Therefore we are told that “Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judah…” to meet with Elizabeth. Mary wasted no time in following the angel’s advice. What encouragement these two women could give one another regarding the things said about the children they were carrying!
We need that kind of support because the people among whom we live do not share our excitement about the birth of our Savior. The world drains the joy right out of us too. We find ourselves thinking as so many do that Christmas is one more excuse for a party. Like so many we evaluate our Christmases on how much fun we have or what kinds of gifts we receive. We need each other to build us up in the faith that God’s Words and promises are true. To have a Christmas like Mary is to spend our time talking about Jesus who is our real Christmas joy because he came to give us what we needed most the forgiveness of sins.
Here is one of many places in the Bible where we are reminded that life begins in the womb. In a way that goes beyond human explanation the baby in Elizabeth’s womb “leaped” when Mary entered her presence. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the following blessing at God’s direction, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” What an encouragement God provided to Mary through the promises spoken by Elizabeth under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.