Oh, how I praise the Lord, How I rejoice in God my Savior!” (Luke 1:46-47)
There was nothing in her circumstances that should have lead Mary to feel this way. She was soon to be pregnant out of wedlock. What would the man she loved and had given her heart to think? As that little round bulge became more obvious how would the women of the village react? How would her life in this village be changed by the gossip, slander and innuendo?
Yet there is nothing of these worries in Mary’s words! “Now generation after generation will call me blessed” she bravely proclaimed. I suspect that the generation who heard these words did not think her blessed. I imagine that, outside of Elizabeth and Joseph, they thought her an idle dreamer at best, or at worst, delusional. There was so much room for Mary and Joseph to fail. But they did not. This is, perhaps, why God chose them.
It is not the wealthy or powerful whom God needs. He does not need either of these things we humans value. He made the entire universe! He knows each star by name and His power is that which holds the sub atomic structure of the universe in place so that there is order instead of chaos. But God did need something which he found in Mary and Joseph. He needed people who could imagine the world through His eyes. He needed those who could understand that the things we see are not real, but rather temporary trappings of this world. In a moment they shall all be burned up and will be no more. But there is a new world and a new universe dawning. It is the Bride of Christ, the New Jerusalem. Its’ golden streets consist of those whose faith has been tried and tested in fire and purified. This new Eternal City consists of Mary, Joseph and their descendants.
This world has secularized Christmas because many no longer see Christ in it. We do not see Christ in it because the Church has become blind to Christ in some ways. The world does not need indignant Christians who stand upon their soapbox and lament that Christmas tinsel is on sale before Halloween. It needs holy, mature Christians whose faith will give birth to the Living Christ within them. We desperately need Christians who will kneel beside the cradle of their hearts having sacrificed their dreams just as Mary did. This is what will allow Emmanuel, God with us, to shine with such brilliance that the tinsel of Christmas will seem as the cheap imitation it is.
Oh Living God, may Gabriel not go away empty handed when he comes to bring good tidings of great joy to us. May he find in us an empty womb, emptied of pride and self, of hopes and dreams, so that our hearts may be shaped only, always, by His image. We pray that as He is finally born in the stable of our hearts, He will not be marred by the selfishness of our dreams, nor sullied by our insistence upon our own way. Oh God we pray that by Your great power and outstretched arm You might remove all within us that would taint the beauty, the holiness of His birth. For tonight is that night. We are each the expectant Mary. The angels of heaven, the servants of God sent to do His bidding await the fullness of Christ formed in each of us. Oh the unimaginable splendor of this moment of Divine Grace! May we never allow it to be cheapened by allowing that sacred space within us to be occupied by anything but His holy Presence. This we ask, with all the faith we can muster through the risen, resurrected and soon coming Triumphant King. Come Lord Jesus, our hearts await! Amen.