Matthew 2:11 “And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”
Luke 2:3-5 “And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.”
Luke 1:30 “And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God’”.
Luke 1:28 “And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”
Luke 1:26-17 “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary.”
Luke 1:46b-55 “And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
As God’s very own, we are called to be messengers of the salvation brought through Christ’s first coming and the hope, for those who believe, of His Second Coming. We can see our selves as God’s representatives in the world – to be living examples of God’s forgiving, transforming power in the life of a believer.
“Then she (Mary) gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough-because there was no room for them at the inn. In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. This will be the sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a manger.’
“Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people He favors! When the angels had left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’
“They hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the feeding trough. After seeing them, they reported the message they were told about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them” Luke 2:7-19.
Advent is about expectation and remembrance. We enter into the story of a world in need of a new start. It’s as much about the journey as it is the destination. And as we travel on this Christmas journey we remember. We remember Christmases of joy and hardship. We remember people we love who aren’t around our table anymore. Some memories are sweet. Others are difficult.
The Italian poet Cesare Pavese wrote, “We do not remember days; we remember moments.” Another man at the end of his life said, “I’ve had my moments, but if I had my life to do over again, I would have more of them.”
Can you imagine all the moments Mary had that first Christmas Eve? Luke tells us that she kept all these memories and treasured them in her heart. She saw and experienced things no one had before or will again. She wasn’t selected because of her wealth, education, royal lineage, or great deeds. In fact, the Bible is silent about the requirements for being the mother of the Messiah. We only know that God favored her highly among women. God’s glory consumed her life from the moment Gabriel visited her. God’s glory, His radiant love transformed her. She held the Son of God that night of which we sing. It was a holy night. God’s glory came to earth and wrote a love letter to the world in the form of a newborn baby.
What happens when you catch a glimpse of God? You treasure it. Mary could’ve had bitter memories about the travel arrangements, the lack of planning, the constant need to improvise. But in a barn full of visiting animals, horses, mules, stray dogs, camels, splinters, hay, and horse manure, Mary kept all these things treasured in her heart.
That night she had to contend with Joseph’s snoring and the shepherds, loudly recounting the amazing appearance of angels. They probably woke the baby several times that night. But just before dawn, when everyone except Mary and a mule was still asleep, she gathered a tapestry of memories:
- the beautiful colors of Gabriel’s clothes
- the look on Elizabeth’s face when she turned and saw Mary
- the busyness of packing for the dreaded tax appointment
- the “No Vacancy” signs
- the nervous, frustrated father
- the tiny hands of the newborn king
I would imagine she wept and smiled. She experienced an orchestra of emotions in concert with the breeze that swept through the Bethlehem hills like a newly released Spirit.
We each have opportunities to capture memories of Christ when we follow Him. Knowing that He became our Savior gives us a reason for joy. It’s Good News worth celebrating and joy worth finding.
*** Matt Tullos is pastor of Bluegrass Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee
John 11:25-26 “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?
Here was a house where the fear of God was, and on which his blessing rested; yet it was made a house of mourning. Grace will keep sorrow from the heart, but not from the house.
When God, by his grace and providence, is coming towards us in ways of mercy and comfort, we should, like Martha, go forth by faith, hope, and prayer, to meet him. When Martha went to meet Jesus, Mary sat still in the house; this temper formerly had been an advantage to her, when it put her at Christ’s feet to hear his word; but in the day of affliction, the same temper disposed her to melancholy.
It is our wisdom to watch against the temptations, and to make use of the advantages of our natural tempers. When we know not what in particular to ask or expect, let us refer ourselves to God; let him do as seems him good. To enlarge Martha’s expectations, our Lord declared himself to be the Resurrection and the Life. In every sense he is the Resurrection; the source, the substance, the first-fruits, the cause of it. The redeemed soul lives after death in happiness; and after the resurrection, both body and soul are kept from all evil forever. When we have read or heard the word of Christ, about the great things of the other world, we should put it to ourselves,
Do we believe this truth? The crosses and comforts of this present time would not make such a deep impression upon us as they do, if we believed the things of eternity as we ought.
When Christ our Master comes, he calls for us. He comes in his word and ordinances, and calls us to them, calls us by them, calls us to himself. Those who, in a day of peace, set themselves at Christ’s feet to be taught by him, may with comfort, in a day of trouble, cast themselves at his feet, to find favor with him.