Driving around the city this past week, I passed several churches with signs on their front lawns advertising their annual Christmas plays. I couldn’t help but think back on my childhood and the many productions I participated in as a girl. Ours was a small church of about 200 people, so more often than not I just donned a new bathrobe from Belk’s and made my appearance as one the small band of shepherds visiting Christ on the night of his birth.
Once I got to play a wiseman… due mainly to the lack of boys in the program that year. But my favorite role was the time I got to wear a white choir robe and a tinsel halo to be part of the angel chorus. Unfortunately, I aged out of the children’s program before I ever got picked for the coveted role of Mary.
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women! (Luke 1:26-28)
There are times that we’re tempted to assess the value of our existence based solely on the roles we play in life. Sadly unsatisfied with our part, we often miss the manifold blessings that are ours to enjoy. However, the good news of Christmas is the same for us as it was for Mary long ago:
You are blessed and highly favored!
Mary was elevated above all women because she was chosen by God to be the mother of the Messiah, Jesus. Obviously, there will never be another like her, but the truth is that all followers of Christ have the favor of God bestowed on their lives because His grace is theirs through faith (Eph 2:8-9), and like Mary, they too have been chosen by Him. (1 Pet. 2:9) As a believer, pause and breath in this marvelous truth: Christ has been birthed into your life, you have been adopted into His family, and God’s full blessing rests on you through the power His Spirit!
1 John 3:1 says, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”
The word ‘lavished’ doesn’t create a picture of stingy, miserly gifts, but ones that are overflowing to the point of abundant excess. God cascades His love on you. It is pure and perfect. It is accepting and forgiving. It is unending, and it will never fail you. He is gentle and patient. He offers His love freely and waits with open arms for you to draw close to Him.
Once you grasp even a small measure of how blessed and highly favored you are as a recipient of His love, then you should with your lips and your life joyfully respond to anything He says in humble surrender just as Mary did:
“I am the Lord’s servant.”
“May it be to me as You have said.”
~ Luke 1:38