Christmas is back!

Luke 1:26-38 (CEV)

An Angel Tells about the Birth of Jesus

One month later God sent the angel Gabriel to the town of Nazareth in Galilee with a message for a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to Joseph from the family of King David. The angel greeted Mary and said, “You are truly blessed! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was confused by the angel’s words and wondered what they meant. Then the angel told Mary, “Don’t be afraid! God is pleased with you, and you will have a son. His name will be Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of God Most High. The Lord God will make him king, as his ancestor David was. He will rule the people of Israel forever, and his kingdom will never end.”

Mary asked the angel, “How can this happen? I am not married!”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come down to you, and God’s power will come over you. So your child will be called the holy Son of God. Your relative Elizabeth is also going to have a son, even though she is old. No one thought she could ever have a baby, but in three months she will have a son. Nothing is impossible for God!”

Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant! Let it happen as you have said.” And the angel left her.

Even if you haven’t yet started planning for Christmas 2018 – the church has!  You can’t suddenly produce a baby in December unless you get busy in March/April!  So the lectionary marks the feast of the Annunciation – when (in the CEV translation) Mary says “Let it happen as you have said.”

Let it happen!

I was reflecting on this during my morning prayer and it occurred to me that quite a lot of what I think my calling is involves me planning stuff and trying to make stuff happen.  Yet – here is Mary saying “Let it happen.”

Mary doesn’t really have to do anything – she doesn’t even have to go out and get pregnant – it’s all done for her – she just has to let it happen – God is the mover here, God is doing the heavy lifting.

This is a real challenge for me!  I could very easily read this as a charter for doing nothing, but I don’t think that’s what God wants me to take away from this (sadly!)  I also like to feel like I am in control – I’m the one with the plan – I’m the one taking steps a, b and c to make x happen.

So maybe a step back.. What DOES God get from Mary?

I think God gets quite a lot.  It is often said that you can’t be a bit pregnant.  Mary commits to being all-in, 100% committed.  She says to God – here I am – I’m all yours – I’m in.  Whatever the consequences of that are – let it happen!

And it seems to me that this is what God has to ask me today.  “Phil, are you all in?”  And the answer God is looking for is, “Yes God, and whatever the consequences of that might be – let it happen!”

Happy Christmas!

Until then – a great opportunity to share this poem again…

An angel came to me
and I was unprepared
to be what God was using.
Mother I was to be.
A moment I despaired,
thought briefly of refusing.
The angel knew I heard.
According to God’s Word
I bowed to this strange choosing.

A palace should have been
the birthplace of a king
(I had no way of knowing).
We went to Bethlehem;
it was so strange a thing.
The wind was cold, and blowing,
my cloak was old, and thin.
They turned us from the inn;
the town was overflowing.

God’s Word, a child so small
who still must learn to speak
lay in humiliation.
Joseph stood, strong and tall.
The beasts were warm and meek
and moved with hesitation.
The Child born in a stall?
I understood it: all.
Kings came in adoration.

Perhaps it was absurd;
a stable set apart,
the sleepy cattle lowing;
and the incarnate Word
resting against my heart.
My joy was overflowing.
The shepherds came, adored
the folly of the Lord,
wiser than all men’s knowing. 

 (Madeleine L’Engle)

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