It’s day three of our series on the men and women who were at the first Christmas. We’re taking twelve days to look at the men and women who were at the first Christmas and get to know them as people. We want to shift our understanding from fictional fable, to human reality. We’d love to hear how this series is impacting you! Feel free to comment below.
If you need to catch up, here’s our past devotionals:
Today we’re hearing from Hanna Halteman, one of our community members and a former Chapter Chaplain.
Read: Luke 1:26-38, 45-56, 2:1-7
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.” Luke 1:46-48
Ever wonder why we say Merry Christmas? Think about it. Okay so merry, Mary; not quite one in the same as to suggest her importance be reflected in our season’s greetings.
Nevertheless, we rehearse the Christmas story each year, one in which we’re told of this incredibly special woman who gave birth to the One and only Son of God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Chosen by God to have a role in His redemption plan for humanity, she couldn’t possibly be relatable to someone like me… or could she? When I read about Mary, consider her role in His story, and truly hear her heart, I find myself connecting with her more personally than many of the people I encounter on a daily basis.
The way I see it, Mary was but a humble child of God who was created with a purpose in mind, much like you and me. Her favor with God was based on His grace, the plans He had for her in connection with His will for the world, not a result of her own efforts, nor any works she may have done to deserve His blessings.
Much like Mary, we were created with a purpose in mind, too. God has a plan for each one of our lives that holds the potential to radically transform the world in which we live. Here’s the kicker, when Mary encountered God through the angel Gabriel, while initially troubled by his words and unable to comprehend how his message could possibly come true, she believed God and rejoiced in her Savior, come what may.
When we’re faced with an impossible circumstance, or we hear God’s voice asking us to trust Him with a situation and to re-orient our lives accordingly, do we take Him at His Word like Mary did? If not, why?
Be encouraged, here are a few takeaways that resonated with me as I took a closer at what actually transpired that first Christmas:
God had a purpose for Mary’s life. Regardless of whether or not she was a perfect Jew or knew everything there was to know about God, He was going to use the virgin Mary to give birth to His Son because “no word from God will ever fail.” (Luke 1:37) That being said, Mary’s understanding of the Law and the Prophets provided her with a foundation that enabled her to connect Gabriel’s message with her role in His story, filling her with the faith she needed to receive God’s blessing for her life with joy. (Luke 1:46-55)
God doesn’t require that we be perfect Christians in order to be used by Him. Like I mentioned before, God has a plan for each one of us, but how we are used by God and the peace and joy we experience throughout the process are directly connected to our understanding of His love and grace and the faith He gives us through a relationship with His Son, Jesus. Knowing God, like Mary did, opens our hearts to receive His favor and walk obediently in His will.
Finally, while our calling might not make sense to us, or anyone else, God knows what He is doing and has already gone before us to give us everything we need along the way. In Mary’s case, we see a kind loving husband who is willing to put his reputation aside to care for young woman, walking in faith with her as well. We also see God bless Mary’s cousin Elizabeth, who is well last her prime, with a child at the same time as to affirm the word that the angel Gabriel spoke to her before she conceived. Elizabeth also provided Mary with a safe space while Jesus was growing within her belly.
When God speaks to us, it rarely ever makes sense, which can make it difficult to believe that God could ever come through for us. But when we marinate on the story of Jesus, we can rest assured that if God provided for Mary, He will provide for us also. God is the same God then as He is today, and He will never leave us nor forsake us.
Are you experiencing a crisis of belief? Is God asking you to trust Him with something that seems impossible?
I pray that the story of Christmas and the truth of how God used an ordinary girl like Mary to do an extraordinary work would renew your faith and inspire you to walk boldly and confidently in the way God has prepared for you. Who knows, he just may use you to change the world for eternity too!
Have a very Mary, er… Merry Christmas my FAITH RXD Family! Amen!
More Devotions from our Christmas series, The Men and Women at the First Christmas:
Day 1- The Prophets: The Conviction, Cost, and Triumph of Truth
Day 2- The Jewish Nation: The Gift of Waiting
Day 3- Mary: Perfect Isn’t Required
Day 4- Jospeh: The Forgotten Father
Day 5- Elizabeth: Joy in the Waiting