The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.
We often think of the Christmas story starting at the beginning of Advent. Actually, the story began nine months earlier when the angel visited Mary and she became pregnant.
When planning for a vacation, wedding or special event, nine months can seem like a ridiculous time in the future. Yet other times, nine months whizzes right by.
A little over three months ago, we moved into our current house. When we first moved in, I was optimistic that in a few short weeks, we’d be settled in and know where everything is because everything would have a home. We might not have the entire house remodeled, but we would have a chunk of it done.
Then, there is reality. Yes, we’ve made progress. But I’ve been without a kitchen sink for over a month. I’ve only unpacked one or two boxes of dishes. It seemed to make sense to wait until I could actually put them on shelves. Just this week, I begin to use my office room rather than a couple folding tables that had been moved several times before finding a semi-permanent location.
Nine months. How long did Jesus’ pregnancy seem to Mary? Did it go fast or slow? Shortly after Mary discovers she is pregnant, she disappears from Nazareth and visits her elder cousin Elizabeth, who is also pregnant. After decades of longing for a child, Elizabeth is finally carrying a baby! Once born, Mary heads back to Nazareth, now visibly pregnant.
I think of how much our lives have changed in the last three months. Yet, I know the challenges for Rick and I pale in comparison to when Mary became pregnant. Here’s a teenaged girl having to quickly make difficult, grown-up decisions. Following God’s lead, Mary handled this seemingly impossible call on her life with great finesse.
The next time I’m complaining about the messy, unorganized house we’re living in, I pray I can remember my messes are not nearly as difficult as the 9-month situation Mary found herself if. I pray I have the same fortitude to follow God’s lead as Mary. And in nine months, look back and see where how things have changed.
Lord God – whether nine months seems long or short, Mary willingly allowed chaos in her life for our benefit. Her decision to accept the call to carry Baby Jesus forever changed the world. May we accept opportunities to change our world in the next nine months. Amen.
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