One does not normally consider the Christmas story to be one of courage. We think of the baby Jesus in a manger, so sweet and happy, and of the life this baby would lead, but what about his parents? We read in the gospel accounts of Matthew and Luke the story of his birth, but if we look closely we also read the struggle and hard decisions of trust and faith his parents had to make.
In the account in Luke we read of a young woman named Mary who was visited by an angel who says to her “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” The text says this greeting greatly troubled her as I think a greeting from an angel would greatly trouble anyone. I can’t say I’ve ever been greeted by an angel nor do I know how I would react, but I think it would be safe to say I would be troubled too. The angel then encourages her not to fear and she has indeed found favor with God; he then continues to explain the nature of this favor in that she will conceive a son by the Holy Spirit and this child will be “the son of the most high.” Her response is astounding. She doesn’t flinch but responds with “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” As I contemplate this passage I marvel at her courage.
Years back as a young newlywed I remember thinking how nice it would be to start my family. Sweet thoughts of a child in my life seemed appealing. Then the reality of being pregnant occurred and I wondered what I had gotten myself into. Then the symptoms of morning sickness and hormonal moodiness occurred and that definitely made me wonder what I had gotten myself into, but oh the joy of feeling the new life grow inside of me as I felt my baby move. What I learned in my experience was it takes courage to be a parent. From the moment of conception, to birth, to the raising of a child it takes courage, perseverance and a whole lot of grace.
I see Mary as a woman of courage and find her story inspiring. Her faith and trust in God was so complete and unwavering. We can ponder what she may have experienced in her culture as an engaged woman found pregnant, even her husband-to-be, Joseph, thought to leave her. He too found courage from an angel who encouraged him to remain with Mary.
This time of year, we hear Christmas songs and my favorite is Mary Did You Know by Mark Lowry. It’s my belief she knew quite well exactly who he was. This being shown by her courage that can only come from deep conviction and faith. She relied totally on God to see her through to his perfect will. She wasn’t disappointed.
So, in this season set your resolve to be of courage and faith as you contemplate the reason for the season. Merry Christmas!
Captain Leslie Cyr is pastor of The Salvation Army, 911 E. 2nd St. Carson City, NV 89701. For information go to carsoncity.salvationarmy.org