I trust that you had a wonderful Christmas! This is the final installment in the Embracing Advent devotional series. We walked through embracing hope, peace, joy, and love. Now, we conclude with some thoughts on embracing Jesus.
We see in the Christmas narratives in Matthew and Luke that all along people needed to make a choice to embrace this child, Jesus, and his family. As each one did, they realized that it would be a tremendous blessing and as well and a serious cost.
Let’s take Mary as an example. The angel promised her a son as her first born, which in and of itself is a great blessing in her culture. This son would also be the Messiah. She was overjoyed! So overjoyed, in fact, that she burst into song over it! (Luke 1:46-55) She also knew that she would be judged and misunderstood as bearing an illegitimate son, even though Joseph embraced Jesus as his own. At Jesus’ birth his arrival was announced by angels and proclaimed by shepherds, but she also stored up all these events and announcements, pondering what they could mean, questioning, even arguing with herself, as she came to terms with the future of her son and her family. This was confirmed for her at Jesus’ dedication at eight days old when Simeon, a righteous and devout man, broke into praise at the sight of the baby Jesus. His words were concluded with the warning that Jesus would bring about significant change religiously and politically, that he would be the object of opposition, and that, spoken to Mary, “a sword would pierce your own soul too.” (Luke 2:35) The beautiful thing about Mary is that it seems there is no cost too high in her obedience to God and in her caring for those God has given her.
As the Christmas spirit continues with us in our holiday celebrations, what is it that we can take away from Mary’s example? What does it look like for you as you embrace Jesus this Christmas and in the new year? The blessings are numerous, such as God’s active presence in our lives through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and through the people we live and gather with on a daily and weekly basis. The challenges are no less numerous as we embrace Jesus, taking seriously the command to love God by loving others. The blessings and challenges are as unique as each individual that considers them. I pray that you take a few moments to reflect on the blessings that are afforded you as you embrace Jesus, and that you seriously consider the challenges that come your way as well. The kingdom way of Jesus is the do the hard work of embracing Jesus through the challenges, allowing the God’s Spirit to empower us so that we can become the reflection and presence of Jesus in our world.
Grace and peace,