How many of you can recall your childhood as Christmas approached? Were you excited to know that it was almost Christmas; did you drive your parents crazy with questions? It is so very hard to be patient when you are excited about what is coming. Christmas is one of those times when patience gets thrown out the door; you want it to be here right now! Then it is Christmas Eve and you are in bed trying to sleep. Sleep doesn’t come easy, you can’t calm yourself enough for the eyes to close. You doze and then you are awake. You look at the time and it is way too early to get up and see what is in your stocking. You try to sleep again. Finally it is close enough to morning and you quietly get up and go to where the stockings are lined up on the couch (no fireplace to hang them). Christmas was like that for me and my siblings. We were allowed to get up early and quietly go through our stockings. Our mom was very good at filling the stockings with just the right stuff, new coloring books and crayons, some candy, and always an orange in the toe. Christmas was finally here and so far it was just what we had anticipated. However, there was still the challenge of having patience. We could go through our stockings but that was all and there were presents under the tree, but we couldn’t snoop or touch. We had to wait until Dad got up, had his breakfast, and we had to have breakfast and get dressed, and mom cleaned up the kitchen. My goodness!! Were we ever going to be able to open the rest of the presents? After what seemed like an eternity for us kids we got to open our presents. It was what we anticipated.
The season of Christmas continues to be a challenge for our patience. Now it isn’t the anticipation of opening the presents under the tree but how are we going to have time to buy the gifts, get them wrapped, and in some cases get them mailed to where they need to go, then there are the cards to be sent out, the cookies and goodies to bake, the house to decorate. We become frazzled and tired and sometimes short tempered. The lines are too long, the mail doesn’t arrive when it should, and the list goes on. We forget to take a breath, calm ourselves and think about the real reason for the season.
When we do calm down and take a breath, we can think about the real reason for the season. For we know what happened so many years ago that gives us the reason to celebrate this time of the year, every year. Can you imagine how it must have been for Mary especially as this time of year approached? She was engaged to be married to Joseph, that she knew, but the anticipation of when it would happen and how it would be to be a married woman was there. Just thinking about it might have made her excited and anxious for that date to come. But there is more. I will read the passage from Luke that tells what is to come.
So now Mary has learned that she is going to be with child and will give birth to the son of God. She has also learned that her relative Elizabeth is also carrying a child in her old age. Oh My! That certainly would throw a curve in what you were anticipating to happen. But Mary graciously accepts what the angel has told her by saying; “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” The reaction could have been so different. She could have refused to believe what the angel told her, she could have said no way, that’s not happening to me, she could have wondered what will happen when Joseph finds out. But she graciously accepted what the angel told her. God knew He had made the right choice when he chose Mary. After getting over the surprise and shock, then I am sure Mary was excited and she was also excited for Elizabeth whom she went with haste to visit. They had stories to share as they both were having a baby and both were a miracle. Elizabeth was having a child at an old age and Mary was having the child of God. There was the anticipation of the birth of their children. There was I am sure the anticipation of what these children would mean to their lives. There was so much to be excited and maybe a little apprehensive about. It was good for them to be together and scripture says that Mary stayed with Elizabeth for 3 months before she went back home. It is while Mary is with Elizabeth that she sings the song of praise to God. Mary said; “My soul magnifies the lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.” Even with some time to absorb what was happening Mary was still ready to do God’s will. She was ready to move forward with her life that was going to be different that she had anticipated. When the time came, she would give birth to the son of God. What a blessing that is for all of us now and into the future and all that have come before us.
So it is with patience and quiet anticipation that we should look forward to Christmas day, the day that Mary, the servant of God, gave birth to Jesus, the son of God. We should take a least a few moments in the days to come to forget all that needs to be done or that we think needs to be done, all that is trying our patience. Then we should reflect on the reason that we are celebrating on Christmas day, the birth of Jesus Christ. We are so blessed.