This Christmas series is based on a quote by Frederick Buechner about the parable of the Good Samaritan:
Is the point of Jesus’ stories that they point to the truth about you and me and our stories? We are the ones who have been mugged, and we are also the ones who pass by pretending we didn’t notice. Hard as it is to believe, maybe every once in a while we are even the ones who pay an arm and a leg to help.
And perhaps sometimes we are the ones in the Christmas story. That’s what this series is about.
After we meet Zechariah and Elizabeth, we meet another character—Mary. Mary is one of the key characters of the Christmas story.
Some facts about her:
- Mary was young, probably a teenager.
- She was pledged to marry Joseph.
- She was a virgin.
The angel who visited Zechariah with surprising news (understatement) of their impending AARP birth, visited Mary with news of her own.
She had found favor with God, and she was going to have a child. But not by Joseph. By God himself. And not only that. This child will be the Son of God.
Mary was going to be the mother of Jesus.
Whoa, that’s a heavy burden to ask a teenager to carry. But this is how we’re like Mary.
God calls us to carry something that is, yes, at first a great joy and honor. The Messiah—what a thrill. But then it begins to feel weighty. We start to feel the gravity against us. The joy loses luster and a burden is formed.
What would Joseph think? That she was messing around. He made plans to divorce.
We wonder how we can do what God has called us to do. How will we carry it, our beautiful burden?
For some, the focus is the orphan, the widow, the family. The wounded, the bruised, the afflicted. It’s the downcast, the down and out, the Down-syndromed. The forgotten, even the famous.
Or for now, a matter of your own heart that is bucking like a stallion, refusing to be tamed. You know you must control it. But how?
Or hunger or sickness or wealth or brokenness. Evil, chaos, shame, defeat. Something unredeemed that once caught you and you felt called and knew you could make a difference.
But after it wasn’t as easy as you thought it would be, it required more than you hoped, or even bid you surrender to it, you decide you just can’t. Look at what it’s doing to your ankles.
You dream of a way out, away from the burden God has asked you to carry.
But hush, just for a moment, look at Mary. Brave, young Mary. God favors the unlikely vessels, doesn’t He? There’s Mary with her baby bump and her skinny legs and you imagine all she will go through. She will bear this baby only to see him die.
She will place her hand on his little baby chest and will one day feel only stillness where heart beats used to rise and fall.
On the cross, Mary will see him fall. Her little baby.
But anyway, despite the wonderful, nasty burden of loving and losing, Mary told the angel, “I am the LORD’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” She welcomed the baby, waived in the burden. And we are grateful for it, dear Mary.
The choice is for each of us, what will we do with our burden–deliver it or drop it? If Mary can do it, so can you. That which you carry might be the light you need.
And beyond that, light of the world.
Your little sphere on this dry, cracked earth might just be pining for what you have. No, you’re not perfect. You may not appear the best for the task. You might even be scared.
But you have been chosen. You don’t have to be Christ, you just have to carry him.
Your beautiful burden might be the only Christ your darkened world sees.