(Over the next few weeks, I am sharing my notes from a progressive Christmas dinner from a few years ago. At each stop, I told a bit more of the Christmas story as the women gathered and enjoyed their meal. My prayer is that, by revisiting part of the Greatest Story each week leading up to Christmas, our hearts can be refocused on Christ.)
In the sixth month, 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. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
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 who have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name 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 the house of Jacob 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 upon 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 barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
Really take in the magnitude of Mary’s answer to the angel – “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” Rarely (if ever) have I responded to anything in this way. Mary’s reaction to the angel’s news was complete submission to the will of the Father without consideration to her own wishes or desires. Her path would not be easy, and one that I doubt she would have chosen for herself.
Most of us are willing to accept God’s will when it matches up with our own. If God blesses me with a loving family, a successful career, enough money to be more than comfortable, and no bumps in the road, it’s easy to say, “May it be to me as You have said.”
But what if God asks me to endure hardships? What if someone is more successful than I am? What if my family is not as peaceful as I had dreamed? What if I face disease, job loss, or an uncertain future? Am I still able to say with Mary, “I am the Lord’s servant”?
The Christmas story is both bitter and sweet. Victory is mingled with pain. This Christmas season, may we learn to say with Mary, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as You have said.”