Christmas grace

I remember becoming engaged. The excitement of it. Showing off the ring. Gathering my trousseau. Conversations with my mother that only women understand. The look on Sweet William’s face.

It was a time of anticipation, and my dream of becoming a wife and then later a mother was coming true. And that is what I had wanted since I was a little girl playing with my dolls and setting up my pretend house.

Did Mary feel the same?

Matthew 1:13 tell us Mary was engaged to be married to Joseph.

Her situation was similar yet different. In first century A.D. marriages were arranged by the parents. Mary didn’t get to “fall in love” or “find her soul mate.”  A contract was drawn up and covenant confirmed by both families. It was done.

Marriage was the hoped for dream of a young Jewish woman, to have a husband to take care of her and provide a home for her. And they would pray for children. Mary would expect to bear a child.

Neither Mary nor I had any idea what the future would bring.

None of us ever do. We dream, make plans, follow through with our promises, and begin walking out the life we hoped for, the perfect little white cottage with the picket fence and a life of happiness.

The unfolding of our days never plays out exactly like that.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.”
This is the Lord’s declaration. “For as heaven is higher than earth,
so My ways are higher than your ways, “

God’s plan is so much loftier, elevated, immense, huge. It is deeper than we can fathom. It is wider than our minds can comprehend

Mary expected a normal Jewish life, the way she had seen it lived out in her mother, her aunts, and the women of her community.

But God had grander things in His infinite mind. Plans that would take Mary on a journey she never could have imagined. Plans that would embrace a world in need of a Savior.

God’s plans for me have been surprising, unexpected, even unwelcome by my limited viewpoint. While I hoped for a flower-strewn pathway, the road has often been rough and rocky, an uphill climb, a test of endurance.

I am comforted by the promises made to Mary by the angel Gabriel.

Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. . . . 
The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.

Like Mary, God tells me not to be afraid. He says I am loved and cherished. He promises the Holy Spirit will be with me and in me, to comfort, guide, and teach. I have assurance that nothing is impossible with God and that He is faithful to His promises.

Can I respond to the mystery of the unknown like Mary did?

“Behold,I am the servant of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.”

I want to. I bow my face before a Holy God in surrender to His will and His plan for the rest of my wild and wonderful life.

And this is my assurance and consolation, that we will walk together.

Image result for mary and the angel, the nativity movie

A simple year

I don’t have a themed Christmas tree nor is there one in every room.

There are still boxes (yes boxes!) of decorations upstairs that are completely full.  This year, I just didn’t want to overdo and be overdone with the whole decorating process.

There are enough reds and greens at the Wright House.  Nativity sets sit on table tops to remind us, and any who enter, why we do this thing called Christmas.

But this year, it’s simpler.  And I’m OK with it.  Actually, I’m really good with it.

I like driving at night and looking at houses with lights on roof lines, trees and bushes in the yards.  I remember a year when I was a child, and my uncle, who lived next door, completely outlined his house in colored lights.  From a distance, it looked like it was glowing in the sky.  It was wonderful!

We’ve never done anything so elaborate.  I put simple lights in my windows because they take me back to my childhood home.  I recall decorating with my mother when I was a small girl, sweet memories.

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It seems I see a trend toward simplifying our lives and learning to live on less.  Maybe we are trying to learn contentment?  Perhaps the pendulum is swinging in the other direction after our “more is better” kind of lifestyle.

The Nativity StoryI watched an old movie this week, The Nativity, and noticed the drab clothing of the community where young Mary lived while Joseph planed his proposal.  There were no bright colors or extravagances in their lives.  They were doing what was needed to survive.

And within the simplicity of their existence, the most glorious event took place, the promised Messiah came to an ordinary young girl, engaged to be married to an ordinary working-class man.

And then it all begins to get interestingly complicated.  Glory is splashed all around.  Angels appear with unbelievable messages.  Dreams direct the next move.  Magnificent light shines around.  Brilliant signs appear in the heavens.  Foreign dignitaries bring rich gifts.  Plain people proclaim prophetic words.  And Mary ponders it all in her heart.

Suddenly the simple life became wondrous.  Grand.  Splendorous!

Perhaps that can happen to us.  In our simplier celebrations this year, perhaps we will see His glory, the glory of only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.