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When the Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary
by Elaine Pierce
We’ve heard the Christmas story so many times that it can cease to have an impact. Yes, yes, yes – the baby Jesus was born in a manger….no room at the inn….and the lowly shepherds were visited by angels, who told them about this amazing baby…..we know the story backward and forward. We all have manger scenes in our homes this time of year, and Mary and Joseph and the shepherds all look so angelic as they gaze at the sleeping baby.
And yet, as I read these words for probably the thousandth time, and prayed for God's direction, I was struck by the ‘normalness’ of this scene. The shepherds were doing their job – watching their flocks - when the angels visited them. Mary had a baby, like many, many women have done before and after her. Mary and Joseph, like all good Jews, had their son circumcised and named on the 8th day after he was born.
None of these events were extraordinary. “Regular” people, doing “regular” things. But look at Mary’s response to the visit from the shepherds:
Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. (v. 19).
And the shepherd’s response? First of all, they told everyone this incredible news. And they returned to their sheep – their ‘regular’ jobs – glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. (v. 20).
Mary and the shepherds were not being particularly spiritual when God gave them great blessings out of the ordinary. God often uses ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things. Here are a few examples. We could certainly include Mary, a teenage mother, and shepherds, low on the career totem pole:
Noah drank too much, but God used him to build the ark to save the world.
Moses was a stutterer who ended up being God’s spokesman.
Rahab was a prostitute who God used to help his spies and overtake Jericho.
Esther was an adopted orphan who became Queen to save Israel.
Paul was the enemy who became the most prolific Christian in the New Testament.
Perhaps I ought to end with “my name here.” How is God using me, how is he using you? Be open to God’s work in your life. You may be ‘ordinary,’ but those are the only people God uses.
Thank you, Lord, for the examples of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. As we clean up the wrapping paper and put away the Christmas decorations, help us to delight in your love and to look for ways to share it with others. Help us in the midst of ‘ordinariness’ to be open to your leading. Amen.