Finding Meaning in Christmas

Christmas is only in a couple days. What a wonderful time of year this is, with the Christmas lights, Christmas movies, delicious food, Christmas music, hot chocolate, Christmas shopping, and more. Each of these elements help to make the Christmas season special. However, they don’t quite complete the picture. The element we are missing is the very person that Christmas is supposed to be all about. And if you have ever been in a church service at Christmas time, you have probably heard a message about the true meaning of Christmas, which is Jesus. This holiday is a celebration of the birth of our Savior. Jesus came with a purpose: to live among us as a human example, to bring salvation to the world, and to give us the opportunity to be set free from sin through our faith in Him. Not only is Jesus the meaning of Christmas, but He gives meaning to our lives.

This Christmas, that is what I am being reminded of… that our lives have meaning and purpose. Because of Jesus, so many lives have been changed, including mine… and maybe yours. One person whose life was drastically changed by Jesus was Mary, the mother of Jesus. In Luke 1, you can find the story of when it all happened. God sent an angel, named Gabriel, to tell Mary that she would give birth to a child, who would be the Son of God. At the time, she was not married, she was a virgin, and she was only a teenager, so I’m sure this came as a shock to her. But she was delighted to accept this purpose that God had bestowed upon her, to be the mother of Jesus Christ. And as far as we know, she did a pretty great job at it.

Growing up, I have always known about Mary who gave birth to Jesus. But I have never had the opportunity to really look deeply at her story. The focus of this story, for me, has always been on Jesus coming into the world, not so much on Mary. So recently, I studied Luke 1 again and only focused on Mary. And as I studied her story, I asked myself: what can I learn from Mary? Three things stood about from the way she responded to God’s call on her life.

The first thing I noticed about Mary was that she was obedient. When God called her, she didn’t hesitate. Yeah, I’m sure she was shocked and confused. But still, her response was “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to Your Word” (Luke 1:38). She accepted the opportunity. Though she didn’t know what to expect, or even how to be a mother, she loved God and trusted that He knew what He was doing. She responded with obedience.

The second thing I noticed about Mary was that she had a great attitude. When she obeyed, she did not complain or grumble about it. She was joyful and thankful. In fact, Luke 1:46-55 shows us a song of praise that she gave to the Lord. And in that song she said “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…” When we obey the Lord, but we complain the whole time, it is not true obedience. True obedience is when we are joyful and have willing hearts towards the Lord, like Mary did.

The third thing I noticed about Mary was that she was faithful. Throughout the whole process, of being pregnant, giving birth, and raising Jesus, she was faithful to her purpose. This calling on her life was not easy, I’m sure. Could you imagine being Mary? She was only twelve or thirteen years old when God told her she would give birth. She didn’t have much money, if any at all. Then, once people found out she was pregnant, I can only imagine that her neighbors and people in her community were gossiping about her since she was so young and was only engaged at that point in her life. Then she also had to try and explain to people that it was the Holy Spirit that caused her to be pregnant, and not Joseph. On top of all of that, she had to flee her home with Joseph in order to give birth to Jesus, since King Herod wanted baby Jesus dead. These are not some easy circumstances to face, especially while being pregnant. Yet even still, she remained faithful. Mary was faithful to feed Jesus, change his diaper, teach him how to walk and talk… as well as all the other essential things that every child needs to have growing up. She was faithful in doing those small, but important, things.

It’s remarkable how faithful Mary was to this purpose. Even when Jesus was being crucified, she was faithful to God’s plan. She didn’t try to stop them from hurting Jesus or killing Him. She was silent and let it happen. How any mother could stand to see their child being killed is unexplainable. But she was able to let it happen only because she knew that Jesus’ death was all a part of God’s plan to save the world. Her commitment to God was incredible.

Mary was just an ordinary person, but God gave her an extraordinary purpose. The same goes for you and me. We may each be just ordinary people, but God has an extraordinary purpose for each of us. The Bible commands us to love God first and then love His people. Those are the two greatest commandments we have been given. God has created each of us uniquely with a unique way to carry out our purpose of loving others and telling the world about God. For Mary, it was being a mother to the Savior of the world. For me, it has been showing young girls that they are loved and valued. For you, at may be something else. And when we are faithful to God and obedient with the small things, extraordinary things will happen.

The important thing to know, today, is that you have a purpose. God calls you worthy. God calls you loved. And God has given you a purpose – a unique way that only you can show the world His love and wonder. So, this Christmas, may you be reminded of that. Remember that Jesus not only came to set you free, but He came to give you life and life abundantly (John 10:10). An abundant life which is full of purpose, just like Mary’s was.

I hope you that have a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year! May this coming year, 2017, be a year of purpose. May you recognize God’s love for you. And may you find joy in doing the ordinary, little things this year… remembering that they, too, can share God’s love and amount to something extraordinary. You are extraordinary and can make an extraordinary difference, because of Jesus.

-Jen Sargent