Minister’s Letter December - Christmas 2018
It is a cliché to say how quickly time goes but it is true! It really does seem like a month ago it was Easter and now Christmas is here, well not quite!
But by the time you read this letter, I am sure that your Christmas celebrations will be in progress, in whatever shape or form they might take.
In this Christmas letter, I want to explore the role of Mary who in Luke’s Gospel says "here am I, the servant of the Lord, let it be with me according to your word” Chapter 1 verse 38. This is Mary saying ‘yes’ to God. Let’s imagine for a moment that we are in Mary’s situation, two thousand years ago you are engaged to be married, looking forward to the future when suddenly you are told by an Angel sent from God that you are to bear a child, not of your Fiancée Joseph, but of God, a child who will not only change your life, but change the world itself.
How would we have responded to this? Understandably, Mary was somewhat bemused, “How can these things be?” she asked and I am confident that behind this question, there must have to been countless other questions running frantically through her brain! Like "what would people say?” An even more importantly, “what would Joseph say and do?”, and again "who was she, to be singled out, for such responsibility? Was she up to the job of parenting such a special child?”
And yet another thought, she could have been thinking, I am not ready to have my life turned upside down, and all my plans thrown into confusion. Many people in Mary’s situation would have politely but firmly declined coming up with a variety of excuses as to why they were the wrong person for what God had in mind. The bible has many stories particularly in the old testament where people have done just that, Jonah being one for example (but that story is not for Christmas, I will save it for another day!)
But Mary was different “I am the Lord’s servant, let it be with me according to your word”.
I have sometimes wondered had Mary declined, would God have refused to take NO for an answer? Would he have pressurised her to accept his wishes, continuing with his plans regardless? I do not think so, for our God does not work like that. I believe God invites a response from us rather than demand us to do his will, I believe God works through cooperation not through coercion.
Mary could have said no but she did not, she did what God asked of her. His wish was her command!
Less will be asked of us, than of Mary, but God nonetheless needs our service, and he needs our witness. To help build his kingdom, he needs our faith, our love, our caring and sharing to help make him known.
Each of us has a part to play, a contribution to make, but it is down to us. Whether we will take it on, or shy away from the challenge, God will not force us to do his will, he only asks. The question remains have we like Mary the necessary courage and commitment to say ‘yes’ to God this Christmas?
Lord God, we give you thanks for the birth of your son,
who was born not in a palace, but in a lowly stable.
Born not with fanfares and trumpets but with lowly shepherds standing by.
We thank you that Mary obeyed your wishes and said ‘yes’ to you
Help us as we celebrate the birth of your son this Christmas, to say YES to you and your will, not just at Christmas, but always striving to do what it is that you ask of us.
Yours in Christ