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A Christmas Story

December 01, 2017
By Eric VanDerhoof - Head of School

A young woman was sitting in her room thinking about all the exciting events that were taking place in her life. She was engaged to a wonderful man, and she was looking forward to all the planning that would take place in preparation for their wedding. It was going to be a wonderful day! In addition, her cousin was expecting her first baby…O how she loved babies!

Suddenly, she felt a strange, eerie presence in the room. As she looked around, she noticed a stranger standing in the shadows. Where did he come from? She felt uneasy and afraid. He greeted her by mentioning how happy she should be because she was so lucky to enjoy so many blessings. This greeting confused her a little bit, and she became even more frightened! Who was this stranger, how did he get into the house, and how did he know anything about her life? Had he been stalking her for a while?

And then he said those words; those words that would change her life forever…”By the way, you are pregnant and going to have a baby!” Oh my! How could this be?! She had never been unfaithful; she was not a party girl nor had she been promiscuous. She was committed to saving herself for her Prince Charming…the man of her dreams…the one she loved!

Suddenly a peace came over her, and she began to ask all these questions to the stranger. He listened patiently and answered all of her inquiries. The stranger encouraged her that all of this was good news, and she would be ok. In spite of her fears, the young woman thanked the stranger for letting her know about this “blessing”. After the stranger left, the young woman visited her cousin, shared her good news, and wrote a song about the amazing events that had taken place.

This strange and troubling tale may seem incredible, but it is true. On the one hand, it is a story that may comprise a parent’s worst nightmare, “Mom…Dad…a stranger came into my room, and I’m pregnant; I’m not sure what happened.” No parent wants to hear those words from their teenage daughter. However, it is the story of Advent; it is the Christmas story. This is the story of how the Angel told Mary that she would give birth to the long-expected Messiah. The Son of the Highest, the Holy One, a King of Israel, the Son of God, the Savior, her son named Jesus.

And, after working through her initial fears and apprehension, Mary accepts the Angel’s message and expresses gratitude for God’s faithfulness. How is she able to hold it all together and keep a positive attitude about this incredible news that is going to disrupt her life? How is she going to explain this to her friends and relatives? How is she going to live through the shame? Mary was able to walk this “dark road” because she was directed by the Holy Spirit to believe God’s Word and not fear the unknown. Mary believed the Angel when he said, “For with God nothing will be impossible.”

And, Mary recorded her thoughts and feelings in a song that we know as the Magnificat. As we read through Luke 1:46-55, we gain a glimpse into Mary’s heart and mind as she is “overshadowed” by the Holy Spirit.

First, Mary’s attention is on God, not her circumstances. “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” While it is natural to focus on the events of the moment, God’s Spirit reminds us of the God Who controls the moment.

Second, Mary doesn’t pretend the circumstances don’t exist, but she understands and interprets her circumstances in light of God’s character and promises. “For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.” God can be trusted because of Who He is and what He has done.

Mary recounts God’s faithfulness as she recalls God’s dual action work of salvation: rooting out evil and redeeming His people. In His general redemptive work God “has shown strength with His arm…He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly.” In particular, "He has helped His servant Israel” and kept His promises to Abraham.

Mary, did you know? is a popular song at this time of year. In fact, I just listened to a wonderful rendition by the Singing Contractors! Mary may not have known all that was going to transpire with her Son, Jesus; but she did know the Father of her Son, and that knowledge gave her peace and courage. With joy and gratitude she trusted God’s promises and obeyed His Word. May our hearts rejoice as we remember the Advent story and sing the carols of the Christmas season.

Joy to the World, the Lord has come! Let earth receive her King!

This Good News should move us to respond, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” And then, go and live out the story God has written for you and share with others the good news of what God is doing for you and the world through his Son, Jesus Christ. Tell your Christmas story!