Every parent has hopes and dreams for their children – that they will be happy, that they will be physically and emotionally and spiritually healthy, that life will be fair to them, that they will have friendships and relationships that are life-giving, that they will find fulfilling and satisfying employment, that they will be people of integrity.
But what would your expectations of your child be if you were told before he was born that your child would be one of a kind – there has never been anyone like him before, and there will never be anyone like him again. Or, to put it in another way, this child was no less than the Son of the Most High God.
I am sure that while some (most? all?) parents would be totally overwhelmed on being told this, the actual recipient of this piece of information instead responded by saying:
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:38)
Now, this child’s mother, Mary, could have responded to the message from the angel with doubt, asking for proof that what had been said to her was actually true. Mary could have responded with questions, asking about how this would all work out.
But instead, Mary trusted that God would keep his promises to her, that he would be true to his word.
Mary’s husband, Joseph, was similarly reassured by the words that the angel spoke to him about Mary and the child she was carrying:
“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)
I sometimes wonder how you and I might respond if an angel came and spoke to us. As soon as the angel left would we have looked around to see if anyone else saw what we did? What if we were mistaken about what we thought we saw and heard?
Would we have run around telling everyone that an angel had appeared to us and spoken to us? Would we have posted an update on WhatsApp, uploaded a new podcast about the event, or perhaps even posted a TikTok video about what had happened?
One way that we can understand the words of the angel in the Christmas story is to see it as part of a story about changed lives. Mary and Joseph. The shepherds and the wise men. Me and you.
The Christmas story challenges our understanding of who God is and the way God acts and intervenes in human history. The Christmas story causes us to shift in our understanding, from all that we think we are to who and what God has called us to be.
The Christmas story challenges our perceptions about God. Is God distant and uninvolved in human history or is it God who is in that manger – vulnerable, helpless, and dependent?
The Christmas story enables us to honestly face our fears and insecurities, and live life with a new hope that is grounded in a God who knows what it is like to be human.
This is the real story of Christmas.
On Christmas Day, Christians across Indonesia will join with Christians all over the world, gathering together in churches large and small, singing Christmas carols, hearing again the well-loved bible stories about the birth of Jesus Christ, Immanuel – God with us – and remembering that God did indeed keep his promise to send his Son to rescue and save his people from the power and penalty of sin and evil.
You are very welcome to join the Christmas Day celebrations at a church near you to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Son of the Most High, Immanuel (God with us).
All Saints Anglican Church Jakarta
Quotations are from: The Holy Bible New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
Please feel free to contact and come to any services:
All Saints Anglican Church
Jl. Arief Rachman Hakim 5, RT 001/RW 010
Kel. Kebon Sirih, Kec. Menteng, Jakarta Pusat, 10340,
+62 21 3193 5283 | email@example.com