The Advent Season is about preparing your heart to receive the gift of Christmas. You would think it would as easy for us to keep our focus on the wonderful spiritual breakthrough that began on the earth when Christ was born, but it seems more difficult than getting along with cranky relatives. The spiritual discipline of Advent was designed to help us grasp what is so easy to overlook at Christmas. We have some wonderful characters in the Christmas story who show us how to keep our hearts focused and prepared to let God touch us with profound spiritual realities at Christmas.
The first character to receive the news that Christ was going to be born, wasChrist’s mother, Mary. She had every excuse for not being able to fullygrasp the reality of what Christmas is all about. Unlike us, she was not accustomedto hearing the details of how Christ came to the earth from the Gospels. Shehad the concept that God was sending a Messiah, but she probably thought He wouldshow up in Jerusalem around Passover. She was an ordinary girl. She was livingan ordinary life. She was engaged to a wonderful man, and beginning to thinkabout how to set up a home for the two of them. I'm sure that becoming the motherof her Savior was a notion she had never considered.
Into her ordinary life, an angel appeared and spoke to her about things too wonderfulfor her to fully comprehend. He began by telling her who she really is. In Luke1:28 the angel said, Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is withyou. Perhaps this is the message you need to receive this Christmas. You needto know that you are highly favored by God and that He sent His Son to earthto die for you! You are the reason that Jesus was willing to leave heaven andenter this place that rejected and despised Him, so that He could save you. Maybeyou need to stop and consider how God’s messengers greet you this Christmas.Mary was a little taken back by this idea at first. But by Luke 1:48 she revealedthat she fully accepted that she was favored by God. In her song she writes, "Forhe has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generationswill call me blessed."
Mary not only received the message of who she really is to God, she also enteredthe mystery of what it means to walk with God. In the midst of an angel appearingwith strange messages from God, she managed to mutter one question, "Howcan this be since I am a virgin?" The angel answered her, but not with allthe details. She knew that it had something to do with the Holy Spirit and thepower of the Most High, and that was all she needed to know. When a Holy andInfinite God is dealing with sinful and finite men and women, you have to acceptthat there is bound to be mystery. Mary asked a question and the angel offeredan answer. We need to ask our questions of God, but we also need to recognizethat some of God’s truths can never be fully explained. To enter the spiritualrealities of Christmas, you must be willing to accept the spiritual mysteriesas well.
This is the wonder of Advent. We are all planning to have an ordinary Christmas.We are busy doing the ordinary chores that come with this season. Just like Mary,we too can be surprised by the Christmas message and accept it on a deeper level,if we keep an open heart.