s2s thought for the month - December 2022.
Christmas is just around the corner!; I’m sure that you have heard that said by now. Well, we are in the season of Advent so it can’t be denied, can it?
I wonder how many times through our lives we’re told, “You never know what’s around the corner”; often after something unexpected has happened. There are times when we might like to know what’s coming, and times when we’re happy to remain unaware. If we knew everything that was ”around the corner”, we might be living a very anxious life.
I think we can say with some certainty that Mary didn’t know what was around the corner the day that the angel Gabriel visited her. It was probably a day that began much like any other day; scripture doesn’t set the scene, so to speak, nor does it need to. Even if we were told that Mary was in the kitchen washing pots, what difference would it make? It would profit us nothing.
What is important is that the angel appeared and, of course, the news that he brought; let’s remind ourselves of some words from chapter 1 of Luke’s gospel;
“And having come in, the angel said to her, Rejoice, highly favoured one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women.” v28
“Then the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God, and behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and you will call His name Jesus He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” vs30 - 33
Now, Mary didn’t see that coming did she?
What we didn’t know was around the corner isn’t always life-changing when it’s revealed to us, it can be surprising, but have no effect on us personally.
Even an unexpected pregnancy will be taken by some in their stride, but the news that Mary received from the angel - that was more than life-changing, it was news that would change the world, forever.
Mary wasn’t simply told that she was to have a baby, but that she was to have a baby who would be The Son of God; could any of us understand what receiving that news would be like? I doubt it.
But that was the truth of it, told to her from an angel; what a day it turned out to be.
So, as we hear the scripture read once more this Christmas, we will be hearing familiar words; words that we have heard since childhood.
Maybe as such we don’t stop and listen carefully because we know them so well, however, we can, perhaps, reflect a moment upon that day; on those words being spoken to a young woman who had never heard them before and most certainly had no idea what was “around the corner” when she got up that day.
Mary was “betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David”; had she wondered what the future held?; would they have children?; how many?; how would they be as parents? All reasonable thoughts for one thinking about her future, but to think of giving birth to The Son of God; The One who would change the world - never.
We might also take a moment to reflect on how we encountered Christ Jesus; even if we are a member of a Christian family, can we really know before that encounter what the future holds - what’s around the corner - when we walk with the Lord?
The apostle Paul speaks of “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph 3: 8); unsearchable meaning that we could never understand rather than never experience.
I often wonder if the words of the angel Gabriel ran through Mary’s mind as she stood by the cross at Calvary, surely she wouldn’t have imagined that day coming/
For us, the “unsearchable riches” are the result of that day, but even blessed with God’s word in its entirety, as we are, we don’t know what the future holds for us; where following the Lord will lead us.
I wonder if in the midst of the hype and advertising frenzy that surrounds Christmas, it becomes a festival of Argos, Amazon and supermarkets, each trying to upstage another, and we forget the simple, but monumental, good news of Christmas.
The baby named Jesus, born in a stable to ordinary, everyday parents was to be Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour; God’s only begotten Son, sent by Almighty God as our redeemer, to free us from the bondage of our sin and the grip of death - to grant us eternal life.
Each Christmas I believe that we, as Christians, should remind anyone who will listen that Christmas isn’t a short story; far from it, it’s the beginning of a journey that we can choose to take, or to go our own way. If we choose our own way, the riches of Christ escape us. The riches of Christ which are the most wonderful, fulfilling, priceless gift that we ever could accept.
Maybe this year it’s time to open our bibles and read the scripture anew, to remind ourselves of the words that we think we know so well, and having done so not to put our bible back on the shelf until next December, but to keep reading day by day.
For certain it will be time well spent; after all, you never know what’s around the corner.
May God bless you this Christmas.