A NOTE FROM PASTOR MARGE
Perhaps your one Christmas wish this year is peace. Just think what this Christmas would look like if you came home for Christmas and unwrapped the very gift of peace. It seems we are never really at peace, are we? Just look around, you don’t have to look long or hard. There are nations warring, family members fighting, people struggling with addictions and diagnoses, and marriages falling apart. There are to-do lists growing longer and longer, we stay up later and later and get up earlier and earlier to get everything done. We honk our horns on the highway so we can go faster and faster. We live in a world that oftentimes feels everything but at peace.
Over 2,000 years ago, Mary found herself in a world similar to ours. The angel Gabriel delivers the news to Mary that she will bear a son, and His name will be Jesus. He will be the Son of the Most High and will be the Savior of the world. All of a sudden, Mary looks around and thinks, “What in the world am I going to do?” She lives in a culture where if a woman gets pregnant out of wedlock, it wasn’t just embarrassing, according to the Old Testament books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, the consequence was death. Even if by some miracle Mary’s life is spared, she knows that she’s in a legally binding engagement to Joseph, and most likely that engagement will end in a divorce. Mary knows she will for sure be a homeless beggar with no husband and no family to support her newborn baby. Even more, Mary is a good, orthodox, Bible-believing, Yahweh-worshipping Jewish girl, so she knows Isaiah 53. She knows that her son Jesus will be pierced for our transgressions. She knows that upon Him will be laid the chastisement of us all. She knows that by His stripes, we will be healed. In other words, Mary knows she is going to lose her child. She doesn't know when it's going to be, whether He's going to be three or thirteen or thirty or yes, thirty-three. She has no idea, but she does know that the end game is not good. Mary finds herself in a chaotic, stressful, and overwhelming world and what Mary does next to prepare her heart for the arrival of the Prince of Peace is brilliant and a really important lesson for us this Christmas season: she gets around the right people to help her get some godly perspective. She travels to her relative Elizabeth’s house. She knows her situation sounds absolutely crazy and there are going to be many people that not only don't believe her, but there are going to be people who might even try to kill her. Mary knows she needs to be with people that are going to remind her not only who she is, blessed among women, but way more importantly, who God is in the midst of this impossible situation. He is Lord and Savior.
You see, Mary needed this visit with Elizabeth at the soul-level. When she felt like she was in an impossible situation, she went and surrounded herself with someone that gave her confirmation and celebration for the work that God was literally doing in
her and through her. Through Elizabeth, the Holy Spirit gave Mary peace. The visit prepared Mary to give birth to Jesus and to receive the Prince of Peace in her heart.
We find ourselves in Mary's shoes this Christmas season: with our messed-up family situations, crazy stories, and impossible situations. We find ourselves echoing Mary's words, "What? How?" We find ourselves in a world full of chaos, unrest, and confusion. We find ourselves in a world that is definitely not at rest or at peace.
So, the question is this: what are you doing this Christmas season to prepare the way for the Prince of Peace? I am not talking about the traditional, Christmasy things like decorating your homes or going to a million holiday parties or finding that perfect recipe for Christmas Eve night or buying presents, no. I'm talking about the things you are doing to prepare your heart and soul for the arrival of Jesus this Christmas. For Mary, she surrounded herself with godly people. She actively sought out communion and fellowship with other believers, with people that would help to remind her of the miraculous thing God was doing in and through her for the saving of the whole world. Mary was reminded of her identity in God during that visit. Mary was not just some teenage girl from Nazareth, engaged to Joseph of Bethlehem, a virgin, yet pregnant out of wedlock, oh no. Mary was reminded and affirmed by the power of God through Elizabeth that she had found favor with God, and it was by God's grace He chose her to deliver the Savior to the world.
Just like Mary, we have found favor with God because of that little baby boy lying in a manger on that first Christmas. It is by God's grace through faith we have been saved, not by any long to-do list we’ve accomplished. Now, we are no longer defined by our social status or marital status or job status. We are defined as sons and daughters of the King of Kings, and we have been called to do amazing things for the glory of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. May it be so for us today and may we be prepared to unwrap the very gift of peace this Christmas.
— Pastor Marge