Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas Ponderings

I enjoy changing the décor in our home with the seasons.  The basic furniture stays the same, but it’s adornment changes. 

It’s the same way with my time with God.  The basics are the same:  my Bible, my journals, a good book or two that have been ministering to me.  But what I focus on changes.  So with the beginning of Advent, my Word time this year is centering on Mary, the mother of Jesus.  What a gift that her story has been recorded for us!

Mary doesn’t yet know that her cousin Elizabeth is pregnant when she is visited by the angel Gabriel with his amazing message.  “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you”. The Bible records that Mary was greatly troubled at the saying.  Gabriel has not said anything to Mary about being pregnant with Jesus yet.  He has just spoken something about her identity and Mary is greatly troubled.  The identity Gabriel gives her speaks of God’s love for her.  I bet Mary was more in tune with being the beloved of Joseph, the soon-to-be bride than being the favored one of God.

My culture has so programmed my identity for me that I too can wonder when someone speaks to me using God’s identity markers for me.  I’m sometimes more in tune with being “the basket lady” rather than the beloved child of my Heavenly Father.  Or even an identity I love, “Mana” (grandma) can be more real to me than my truest identity.

Mary’s response reminds me that I need to listen well to surprise affirmations as they might be from God!  I’m challenged to approach my friends this Christmas with their God-given identities. 

I love Mary’s vulnerability and honesty.  Gabriel continues on with his BIG announcement.  Mary’s first response is a question.  I don’t picture her question as a challenging question but rather a question from what Mary knows is true.  She is a virgin and virgins can’t be pregnant … at least apart from the intervention of God.  Gabriel gently speaks to her wonderings.

This so encourages me.  God is not threatened by my questions.  His answers may not come to me as quickly as Mary’s did but I believe they will come.  Questions are ok.

One other thought and this is a big one for me.  “… you will conceive … and bear a son …”.  Mary is going to bear physical fruit.  My desire is to bear spiritual fruit for God.  These words communicate to me that when I live out of my God-given identity I too will bear fruit. I love Philippians 1:22.  If I go on living out who God created me to be, it will mean fruitful labor for me.  My loose translation. 

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares”.  Hebrews 13:2

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