Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Announcement

We all like important announcements, and we wait in anticipation for them to come. The greatest announcement this planet has ever received came as a Christmas message 2000 years ago. Four hundred years after the last Old Testament prophet, Malachi, had predicted the coming of the Messiah, the people continued to wait. When the long awaited announcement finally came, it didn’t come to any place of significance or to anyone of prominence. The angel Gabriel was dispatched from the Father on a mission to the obscure, unimportant town of Nazareth. Six months before, Gabriel had delivered a message to Zechariah the priest. It had been 500 hundred years since his last visit to earth when he delivered a message to Daniel about the coming Messiah. This visit to Nazareth was the culmination of all the waiting.

Gabriel found Mary, who was very young, perhaps only 14 or less, which was the common age to marry in this time.  Mary was part of a believing community who waited and hoped for news of the coming Messiah. She was engaged to be married to Joseph the carpenter.

The angel’s words still amaze us, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you" (Luke 1:28). Mary was certainly favored. Not that she has become the dispenser of all grace and should be the recipient of our prayers. Mary herself would have been horrified by such a thing, but she, after all is the only woman chosen to bear the son of God. Jesus would have born her features because she was his real mother, even though she was a virgin until his birth.

Mary responded to the angel’s words with a reflective heart, “Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.” It is quite a compliment for a girl her age. Mary is then told that, “You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.” The next part of the angel’s words make it clear that this baby will be the Messiah, “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" (Luke 1:29-32).

Mary asked for clarification, "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" (Luke 1:34).
Once Mary understood how this would all happen, she responded, "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said" (Luke 1:38).

This is the meaning of Christmas—a response of belief, trust and submission. Christmas is about faith and belief in the God of heaven who has not abandoned us but has sent his son to save us.

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