Posted on December 25, 2017
Read Luke 2:1-7
The Birth Story begins with statements about political oppression (“a decree went out from Caesar Augustus”), poverty (“wrapped Him in swaddling cloths”), and exclusion (“there was no room for them in the inn”). But in spite of all that, it is impossible to articulate what must have been the unparalleled joy Mary felt when “she gave birth to her first-born son.” Whatever her old world may have been like, something new was breaking into it, something like light in darkness that brings courage and hope unknown before.
In seasons of stress or change, it is easy to focus on that which produces anxiety. But, it is also our option to focus on “good news of great joy.” With the arrival of Jesus into a life, a home, or a church, what new potential for joy and meaning do we find? Answer that question, and you will have discovered the personal power of Christmas.
Posted on December 18, 2017
Read Luke 1:46-49
“My soul magnifies the Lord, for He that is mighty hath done unto me great things.” These verses from what we call The Magnificat must be put it into context. Mary still didn’t understand Virgin Birth. She still had anxieties about what people would think. She still didn’t fully comprehend the Messianic nature of her Child. She still had fears and worries. But amid all that, she was aware that (a) something was about to happen that would change her life in a beautiful way, and (b) God was responsible. She didn’t allow some of the troubling particulars of her life to blind her to the undeniable blessings at her doorstep.
Advent is about that. The Birth of Jesus doesn’t magically erase all our problems. But, it does put them in perspective. It reminds us that even in bad times, there are also blessings if we just look for them. Maybe Advent is a good time to do just that – to intentionally name (even write down) one-by-one the blessings that make our lives warm and wonderful. Take that inventory, and perhaps it will lead you to sing with Mary, “My soul magnifies the Lord, for He that is mighty hath done unto me great things.”
Posted on December 11, 2017
Read Luke 1: 30-35
When she responded to the angel’s words with fear and doubt, asking, “How can this be?,” the angel replied: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God... The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”
Fear and anxiety are givens in this life. No one escapes from that. But amid the stresses and pressures we face day-by-day, the same assurance Mary received from the angel is also our own. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” That passage assures us that peace and power are the products of Divine Presence. Because God’s Spirit is with us, we can navigate life’s deep waters. How do we sense God’s Presence? How can we access it when we don’t always feel it? And what power do we feel when we simply say, “I am not alone”? Those are Advent questions worth pondering prayerfully.
Posted on December 4, 2017
Read Luke 1: 26-29
“But she was greatly troubled at the angel’s words....” So begins the story of young Mary, a teenaged girl not yet married, who had been chosen to become the mother of the Messiah. She didn’t expect that. Who would? No one assumes an angel will randomly show up, announcing that you will become the parent of the Savior of the world. “She was greatly troubled at the saying.” How could she have been otherwise?
And aren’t we still sometimes “troubled” by the awareness that, ready or not, Jesus is coming... to us? Just think of the implications: What will He see in our lives? What will He expect from our lives? And, how might He turn our lives upside down? Those are Advent questions to consider prayerfully, for the answers we come up with may change not only the essence of our December but, indeed, the essence of our lives.