Let’s face it, we usually have an expected idea of what Christmas must look like and sound like and feel like and smell like and taste like. The trees, the decorations, the gifts, the baking, the parties, the cards, the wardrobe, the lights. ARRGGGGHHHHHHH! Who can find time for it all?
Christmas 2002 was my busiest Christmas ever. I had just finished my first contracted book and was planning to start edits the week after Christmas. That was plenty enough to case a panic. But it was just the beginning.
We moved into our new home on December 14. The same day as the dress rehearsal for a play in which I happened to have a main part (which was to be performed the next day). The same day as a dear friend’s funeral. A funeral I was asked to sing for.
I left the house at 7:30 that morning, before the movers arrived. By the time I completed rehearsal, changed clothes at the church, drove into town for the funeral, sang, and got back home, there was nothing left at my old house. I arrived at the new house to find my daughter and my friend unpacking my kitchen.
The next week and a half were spent unpacking, shopping, wrapping and baking. That year we barely got a tree up and were still hanging the ornaments as the grandkids were running through the door. Needless to say, it wasn’t the Christmas I envisioned.
Peace was nowhere to be found.
Mary’s very first Christmas wasn’t exactly what she thought she’d be doing, either. But when we read the story of Jesus’ birth in Luke 1 and 2, we don’t find Mary running around in a panic.
Mary claimed peace
Luke 1:29 says that Mary was greatly troubled, and I had always thought she was troubled because she had been told she was going to have a baby. But when I studied the scripture, I realized she hadn’t even been told the news yet.
Instead, Mary was troubled because the angel had appeared to her. And I can see why—after all, it’s not everyday that an angel comes and says you’ve found favor with God! Yes, I pretty sure I would find that a little troubling. As a matter of fact, one Bible commentary actually said people in the book of Luke often responded with fear or awe when confronted with acts of God, like seeing an angel. (Really? Ya think?)
Then the angel tells her “Christmas was coming” (my paraphrase, of course) and it was going to take a little bit of work on her part. Now, granted, he didn’t say it in exactly those terms. But we can all agree Mary’s to-do list suddenly got bigger.
• Get water from the well
• Feed the goats
• Grind the wheat
• Bake the bread
• Have a baby
And not only have a baby, but have a baby without the benefit of being married. A baby who would be the Savior of the world! And think about this: she not only wasn’t married, it was physically impossible for her to be pregnant! Now, that could be a little frightening for all of us.
But instead of panicking, what did Mary do?
• She submitted to the plan. In Luke 1:35 it doesn’t say “the Holy Spirit has come over you,” it says “the Holy Spirit WILL come over you.” The angel delivered the message, but it wasn’t a done deal until she submitted to the plan.
• She trusted God. She trusted Him with her life. Even as a young girl carrying the Christ-child, she could have been killed, stoned to death, because she would have been pregnant without being married. And yet, she didn’t say, “Who’s going to protect me?” “Who’s going to take care of me?” She simply said, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”
Wow. In the midst of the fear, Mary claimed peace. Her life was about to turn upside down into chaos, and yet she claimed peace.
Do you feel that life is making your plans for Christmas? Do you feel like the burden is too great? I know sometimes I do. But that’s when we need to stop, submit to HIS plan, and then trust Him to work out the details. We can be like Mary, we can claim peace at a time when peace is hard to find. But we can’t do it until we agree to work on His plan and His timetable.
Would you join me in proclaiming His peace this Christmas? After all, His peace truly does pass all understanding.
Christmas blessings as we celebrate the Gift and the Giver,