In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name 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 the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her. – Luke 1:26-35; 38
Imagine Mary, in her home one day, resting or working, when all of a sudden her whole life is turned upside-down. She is a young woman with her life planned – get married, have children, be a productive member of her community. What are the plans you have for your life? College, marriage, children, grandchildren, career? How would it feel to have them upended in a single moment?
One of the first things the angel says to Mary is, “The Lord is with you.” This is the message of Christmas! God has come to be with us! When do you feel God with you?
The angel also tells Mary to not be afraid. What do you think Mary might have been afraid of? Imagine yourself as Mary, seeing the angel and hearing this news. What would your reaction have been? The angel told Mary some pretty incredible things! What do you think was the hardest to believe? Mary’s reply to this news is to ask, “How will this be?” What would your question have been?
What kind of a man do you think Joseph was based on these verses? Would you have wanted him to marry your daughter or to be a part of your family in some way? Joseph, too, had an expectation for how he thought his life would unfold. In what ways were his plans disrupted? What effects would these events have on the rest of his life?
The Christmas story, as told in the Bible, is full of people who are afraid but still chose to obey. How does God’s presence with us help us to obey even when we are afraid?
Joy to the world! The Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room,
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n and heav’n and nature sing
Thank God for his presence. Express your feelings about following God despite your fear.