favored one. The Lord is with you."
Stress. Heartache. Pain. Worry. We don't typically associate these
words with Christmas. But they marked the first century as much as our
past year has produced unprecedented strain for so many of us.
Foreclosures. Job losses. Health issues. Injuries. Family strains.
Broken marriages. Death. Everywhere we turn we see struggle. The
economy has proven fickle, and much of what we've taken for granted has
come unraveled -- partially or fully.
would be easy to come to this Christmas with discouragement and
and Joseph knew the feeling. Uncertainty, insecurity, hunger, and
hardship surely marked their lives. Perhaps it's why they deferred
their wedding. It's doubtful that Joseph was a well-employed tradesman;
much more likely an unemployed day-laborer with some carpentry skills
and not a penny of savings. They knew the fragility of life -- as we
an angel came to Mary. (Luke 1:26-38) "Greetings, favored one! The
Lord is with you." Really? Favored? Graced? It's hardly what she
expected favor or grace to feel like. "Do not be afraid; for you
have found favor/grace with God."
might share Mary's initial cynicism and fear. But angels (messengers)
still come to us in dark days and remind us that God is gracious. Our
"momentary light affliction cannot be compared with the eternal
weight of glory that awaits us." (2 Corinthians 4:17)
nothing will be impossible with God," the angel went on to tell
Mary. And it's true. The Father specializes in doing the miraculous.
When we can't, He can.
the appropriate response is not simply gratitude -- "Thanks a
lot!" Instead, it's Mary's response -- "Behold, the servant
of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word."
calls us not just to reflective celebration but to renewed dedication;
not just to remembrance but to surrender. The unexpectedly good news is
that the strains of life do not eradicate the grace or the power of
God. They provide the black background against which the glory of the
diamond is best seen.
this Christmas be marked by fresh hope and faith within each of us.