Luke 1:35-38 ((CEB)
35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come over you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the one who is to be born will be holy. He will be called God’s Son. 36 Look, even in her old age, your relative Elizabeth has conceived a son. This woman who was labeled ‘unable to conceive’ is now six months pregnant.37
Nothing is impossible for God.” 38 Then Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be with me just as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
Really? Mary’s response was so different than we might have imagined!
“I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be with me just as you have said.” Really?
Just put aside for the moment all the paragraphs you’ve read about Mary’s probable feelings at being a pregnant teenager in ancient Israel. Overlook, just for now, the times you’ve read, “My mother is gonna KILL me!” or “Will Joseph think I’ve dishonored him?”
Instead, think about how Mary, a Jew, even though only a young teen, had doubtless heard many of the same Old Testament, Sunday-school-type stories we know. So she probably also remembered that at least three of God’s Old Testament witnesses said, “No, thank you” when God gave them unwelcome news or orders.
Jonah not only declined to follow God’s command to prophesy to Nineveh—he actually took off running in the other direction and got on a boat to try to get away from God.
Moses, upon God’s call to rescue the Hebrews from Pharaoh, didn’t just refuse, but even threw his own brother, Aaron, under the bus as a substitute to serve as God’s oracle.
Isaiah didn’t say “no” outright—but he wondered out loud if he was the right man to do God’s bidding, since he confessed that his lips were unclean, as well as the people among whom he lived.
Mary’s response was different from any of those, even though she surely must have known about them. Whatever her inner turmoil, whatever her feelings of fear or trepidation, even whatever her knowledge of how all those who had said “no” came around to doing God’s command eventually, the response Mary did make was different than any other she could have made.
She said, instead, “I serve the Lord; may it happen to me just as you said it would” (New International Readers’ Version) or “I am willing to be used of the Lord” (New Life Version) or even “I belong to the Lord, body and soul” (J.B.Phillips New Testament).
In the same way, we can model upon Mary our own intention to have “a different kind of Christmas.” We can recall, and reaffirm our commitment to show that an Emmanuel Christmas, a God-with-us Christmas, will be so much more fulfilling than a commercialized Christmas. We can let go of our own expectations of perfection. We can remember those who will never have anything resembling the multitude of Christmas-type blessings we experience every day. And we can celebrate, with Mary, what happens when we say, “I am willing to be used of the Lord.”
Prayer for meditation:
Almighty and ever-living God, we are so very grateful for Jesus, for His birth, and His life, and His death and resurrection. Please, father God, keep us walking in your will and your way, and help us to celebrate this festive and holy season as you would have us do. We joyfully pray this in the name of your Son, born so long ago and still alive today. Amen.