In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, 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 conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him 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 Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” –Luke 1:26-33
“You’re going to have a baby!”
What emotions did you feel as you read that statement? Excitement? Anxiety? Disbelief? Joy? The news of impending birth can evoke all kinds of mixed feelings and different responses.
How will this new life change my life? Certainly, the answer to this question is shaped by how you are related to the about-to-be-born child. The parents will answer this question differently from extended relatives: aunts, uncles, and grandparents, or from neighbors who live down the road or strangers in the supermarket.
As a family member, one must make all kinds of preparations to welcome this new life into the world. There are preparations related to pregnancy and childbirth: medical appointments, Lamaze classes, as well as preparations related to welcoming an infant into your life: decorating a nursery, purchasing supplies, childproofing your home.
There are also less tangible preparations. What kind of parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, brother, sister do you want to be? How will you nurture a healthy relationship with this child? What kind of world do you want this child to experience? How can you work towards creating that kind of world? How will you help this child to cope with the hurt, hatred, and fear that he or she will invariably encounter in life?
During Advent, we prepare for the birth of a special baby, Jesus, Emmanuel, God with Us. Advent is a time of waiting and preparation for the birth of this very special baby, and we can be asking ourselves the same questions as the first holy family. How will our life be transformed by this holy baby’s birth? What will we do to nurture our relationship with this holy baby? How will we work to create a world that is fitting to receive this holy baby?
We know that ultimately no one will shield this holy baby, Jesus, from the hurt, hatred, and fear of the world. While we hear little about Jesus’ family after his birth story, we know his mother and siblings shared in his ministry and were counted among his disciples. Rather than shield him from harm, Jesus’ family went with him into the world to face hurt, fear, and hatred by his side.
We are called to do the same. This Advent we will welcome Jesus alongside the first people to hear of his birth, and will ponder how we can walk with Jesus into our world where hurt, fear, and hatred still impact our friends, families, and communities.
What will you do this season to bring the light and life of Jesus’ birth to those who need it?
- Maybe you will fill a box with food for those who do not have enough to eat. Maybe you will deliver a goodie basket to someone who is homebound.
- Perhaps you will invite family or friends to our Christmas Sanctuary Block Party on Sunday, December 18 to find release from seasonal stress.
- Perhaps you will share the information about the Longest Night Service on Wednesday, December 21 with someone who is grieving this season.
Whatever you do, I hope that this Advent season will be one of thoughtful preparation and celebration of God come down in Jesus Christ.
In Christ, Pastor Kat