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December 25 | Luke 1:26-38

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REFLECTION


Great Expectations

by Mary Alice McGinnis


Christmas brings with it the anticipation of joy, peace, wonder, and hope like no other day. Visions of the “perfect” Christmas dance in our wee little heads like sugar plums. What does the perfect Christmas look like in your mind? What does it feel like? Who is around you? What are the sights, smells, and sounds of the perfect Christmas day? The Angel Gabriel appears to a poor, young virgin engaged to be married. He gives this teenager, Mary, a vision of the part she is to play in the very first Christmas:

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Luke 1:28 Mary is trouble at his greeting. She might have been thinking, “Why would an angel of the Lord be coming to an insignificant, poor, simple person like me?” Yet the Angel reassures her:


“Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.” Luke 1:30 What does it mean to have God’s favor? How does one get God’s favor? The word “favored” in the original Hebrew language was the word "charitóō", which means to grace, to endue with special honor, to make accepted, be highly favored. It conveys the connotation of being bestowed an undeserved GIFT of charity or grace. Why do you think the Angel repeated this to Mary two times in his greeting? Mary was promised that she would become the recipient of the greatest gift, birthing Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah, the Savior, Immanuel. God’s own Son would be born to her and through her. When she was nine months pregnant, and in agony traveling the long journey to Bethlehem for the census, do you think she replayed this message from the angel back in her mind? What about when Jesus is born, but amongst smelly animals, without even proper clothes or a bed? Do you think she ever second-guessed what God was doing because it did not match up with how she expected this first Christmas to play out? Yet when Gabriel first appears to her as a teenager, he proclaimed to her this incredible vision of great expectation: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call Him Jesus. 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 Jacob’s descendants forever; His kingdom will never end.” Luke 1:31-33 Mary was yet to have her own heart pierced to an unfathomable depth. The future laid out for her was that she would kneel at the foot of the cross and watch her son, God’s innocent Son, bleed and die a brutal, cruel death.

Yet, just when all hope seemed lost, God’s bigger picture was still at work. His divine plan was to give His Son’s lifeblood to rescue us forever from sin and darkness. God proclaimed His victory over sin, death, and all the evil forces of hell when He raised Jesus from the dead. This message from Gabriel to Mary, and to us, was to help her through all that was yet to lie ahead. God had a bigger picture. Bigger than any circumstance! Bigger than any looming evil that seems to be winning! Bigger than any disappointments or griefs she had to bear. These final words of the Angel Gabriel to Mary were the exclamation point of his message: “For no word from God will ever fail!” Luke 1:37


Mary embraced this message and responded, "I am the Lord’s servant. . . May your word to me be fulfilled.” Luke 1:38 What would it mean to you to know YOU have found favor with God? How would it give you peace, comfort, and hope even during difficult times? Wouldn't this be the greatest gift of all? What promise of God’s Word can you embrace while traveling life’s journey? How will this encourage you to look with great expectation for how God will yet fulfill all He has promised?

 

PRAYER PRACTICE


Praying Scripture: "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21



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