Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, as Your children we know that You are good and gracious. We know that You are almighty. We know that You have proved Your love for us by sending us Your very best in Jesus Christ to save our souls. Lord, since we know that nothing is impossible with You, today we ask that You do something small, but important for each of us. Cause us to embrace Christ’s birth with happy hearts and thereby take all the stress of the season away from our lives. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE COMING CHRISTMAS KING!
TEXT: Luke 1: 26-38
Fellow Redeemed Sinners Waiting For Christ:
Stress is never fun. And this has been a stressful Advent season. The parties that you’re required to attend, the shopping, the decorating, the preparations—this year they don’t seem as fun. They don’t seen to evoke as much excitement as in the past. This year it all seems like a lot of hassle. Why? The simplistic answer is: the calendar shorted us a week between Thanksgiving and Christmas. That meant that more had to be sandwiched into each day. That’s stressful. The more complex answer is: because of all this most of us have failed to really focus on the essence of Christmas—the gift of Jesus. We have often neglected Advent devotions in favor of writing Christmas cards. We have often neglected our prayer lives in favor of plotting the logistics of mall traffic and gift buying. We have neglected savoring those anticipatory moments in favor of running ourselves ragged. And as a result joy has been the casualty.
It doesn’t have to be that way! And our text is God’s reminder that it doesn’t have to be that way. You may feel like a Scrooge. You may act like a Grinch. Your “ho-ho’s” may have turned into “oh, oh’s”, but no matter. Today you’ve come to the right place for your Christmas attitude adjustment.
FOR NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD!
We jam our Christmas preparations into four short weeks. And the stress often gets the better of us. But Mary, Christ’s mother, had nine months of stress—huge stress—unimaginable stress—prior to Bethlehem and the manger. Six months after John the Baptist was conceived in her cousin Elizabeth’s womb, Mary got a visit from the angel Gabriel. “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Up til now Mary had had a fairly nondescript life. She had never seen an angel. She probably never dreamed she ever would. But suddenly, with no warning, here he is! “Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.” As I read those words all I can say is: boy, is that the understatement of the year!
“But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.” What kind of thoughts must have filled her head at these words? No doubt her mind was racing. No doubt she was thinking about her inadequacies, her sins, and the utter incongruity of God finding any favor in her at all! Then, when Gabriel tells her that her future son will be called: Jesus, she must have shaken her head in utter wonderment. Jesus means “God saves.” So, how would her little boy save anyone and in what way?
Then Gabriel adds even more to the equation. “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 the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” Now she’s even more thunderstruck! She, Mary, is going to give birth to the eternal Son of God? She is to be the mother of the Messiah? It’s all so mind-boggling! We see her confusion in her response to the angel. “How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?” Here she is, a young woman probably 15 or 16 years old. She is pledged to be married to Joseph, yes, but she is also a virgin. She has never had sexual relations. How? How? How? Talk about stress!
“The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”—There it was again. Her son will be the eternal Messiah! How? How? How? “Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”
Nothing is impossible with God! Those five simple words snapped her back into Godly reality. Those five simple words answered her questions, calmed her worries, and filled her heart with joy. Those five simple words turned her nine month Advent into a time of eager anticipation. And how do we know that? Listen to her response. “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.’ And then the angel left her.”
The antidote to all stress is the Gospel! It is the good news of salvation in Christ. It is the reminder that God is in charge of our lives and when we cling to Him in humble faith and get rid of our doubts, stress evaporates. Gabriel proclaimed to her the Gospel. And he ended his little discourse with those glorious words of Divine comfort: “Nothing is impossible with God.” How true! Nothing is impossible with God! In Christ God loves us. In Christ He finds favor in us. In Christ He has taken on the burden of our sinful stresses and put them all to death on the cross. In Christ we have a new life because He arose from death to life for you, me, and Mary. In Christ, God will make sure that all things work out for our eternal good.
At first blush the angel seemed to bring stress into her life. But then he brought calmness and joy because he brought to her Christ’s conception via the Spirit’s power. With Gabriel’s words she was implanted with God’s eternal Seed. It was in her heart and now in her womb. And once she possessed that gift, she accepts it in faith, and her stress disappears as we have seen by her answer.
It’s the exact same for you and me. So, expose yourself to the Gospel. Ponder the fact that the Savior was born to free you from earthly stress by focusing your attention not on earthly things but on heavenly truth and love. Through the Gospel God has implanted faith in you, too. And with it comes calmness. The cards, letters, gifts, food, and parties are just human fluff. But Christ is salvation and love and forgiveness and eternal life! He’s the be all and end all of Christmas. And He alone puts everything else into perspective. For He alone is the proof that: “Nothing is impossible with God.” No doubt, Mary had her “up and downs” emotionally over the next nine months. And no doubt, her stress was calmed every time she remembered those words and focused on them. Learn from Mary. Follow her example. Keep that quiet place in your heart for Jesus. And then you really will have a merry Christmas! Amen