Whenever I read stories in the Bible I like to take time to reflect on the circumstances, thoughts and emotions of the characters in the stories. I ask myself, “What was it like back then?” “What was it like to face those kind of challenges and crises?” “Can I identify with how they responded?””How might I have responded given only what they knew?” “What was it like for them to encounter Jesus, to have the response of faith or doubt or confusion?” And what was it like to experience the amazing events the Bible so often describes?” Many times these ordinary folks did not have a clue how everything would turn out yet followed God trusting he would lead the way.
Christmas is an amazing time of year and the story of Jesus birth is filled with many amazing people. There’s Zacharias, Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph, Simeon, Anna, the Shepherds and the Magi, all with wonderful stories connected to them.
During this season I hope to jot down some of my reflections, most of which will be viewed from Mary’s perspective as the central character. I’ll call these musings Mary’s Christmas.
What fascinates me most is being able to watch the supernatural interaction of God with Mary and the people whose lives become intertwined with hers. It’s as if God has summoned all these characters on her behalf for the central purpose of reassuring her that all will be fine. Her faith is not misplaced.
As I read about a young girl being told she is pregnant with the Messiah I marvel. She had great faith. But God knew that for any human to stay in their right mind during this whole process spiritual confirmations would be definitely in order. In that I see God’s love and care for his creatures who are at times weak and fragile. He does not put on us more than we can handle. He is always there to encourage and strengthen us. At times with supernatural signs and divine encounters, at times with a relative or a close friend or even a stranger.
A glance at the beginning of the Christmas narrative in Luke 1 and immediately we see God preparing an important part for the first of what I call “prophetic encounters or confirmations”. The story of Zacharias in the temple is all about one person’s response to the supernatural initiative of God which will later be seen as a contrast to Mary’s response. But also it is the beginning of the story of a barren woman who God will supernaturally touch with new life. This woman, Elizabeth is being prepared for a later prophetic encounter and confirmation for the further assurance of young Mary’s faith.
I hope you will join me on what I hope will be an amazing Advent journey. May all the marvelous events of this season come alive for you and may they bring you joy and confidence in our great God.