The Christmas miracle
“’You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you . . . And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son . . . for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’ Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’” (Luke chapter 2)
God favours those who are barren, yet open to His Word.
Hear the angel’s word: “Mary . . . you have found favour with God. . . . you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.” The virgin Mary conceived. The life of Jesus came incarnate within the darkness of her womb; into the “darkness of human impossibility!”
Scripture is full of stories, where God opens closed wombs. Only God brings life to closed wombs. And a woman’s womb reminds us that in the darkness of human desolation, God gives life (Ps 139:13). It is the miracle of Genesis, of creation, of new beginnings in Jesus Christ. And so for us, a pattern was established. Mary became a model disciple of the Lord. And she anticipated this; spilling forth the Magnificant, “My soul magnifies the Lord . . . for . . . surely from now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has ‘magnified’ me!”
- 1. Rest in the knowledge you are highly favoured by God.
If you are in Christ, you also are “highly favoured.” You are “beloved of the Lord!” People may forget you, but God remembers you. He knows where you are. He knows how you are. God knows your name, and He knows your number. And God has His timing.
- 2. Rest in God’s “timing.”
There are times in the human predicament that a “womb” is closed.
Are you trapped by circumstances with no exit sign? In prison, Joseph had no network. But Joseph knew God. In the Judean hills David had no network. But he knew God. Moses had a network; then he lost it. But in the desert he found God. Job had a network; but it was taken from him. Yet Job found God. “Come,” he says, “and I will teach you about the hand of God.” Paul too lost his network. But in the desert, he too found God. In the desert, Mary knew God. No doubt all these people wondered about God. No doubt they wondered if they knew God.
But in the silence of the “womb” of human impossibility, they learned God. And all these people were “highly favoured” by the Lord.
Where are you in God’s timing?
Mary was in a village, in the outback of the Judean desert. They used to say, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Mary had no network. There were surely days that she and Joseph could not even afford a net, a fishing net. They were flat broke!
But God sent His angel to the village . . . and the angel said, “Greetings favoured one! The Lord is with you!” Mary did have a network after all, a friend in high places- the highest place! Mary knew God.
- 3. Be ready for God’s timing.
Are you open to the timing of God? Are you open to the fullness of God? At first Mary tried to reason it all out. She asked the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” Mary knew she had no relations yet with Joseph. Mary is just like the rest of us, walking around the altar with this little “scientist” in us, trying to figure out God with our little mental “microscopes.”
Now Mary was also just a little teenage kampong girl. She probably didn’t even know how to read or write. She learned the Scriptures by hearing and singing! But the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you . . . For nothing is impossible with God.” Somehow, perhaps because Mary was in the desert was learning God, she received the word of the Lord. And she opened herself up to the Spirit of God, and the word of the Lord. “I am the servant of the Lord,” she cried out, “let it be to me according to your word.”
Down through the epochs of Scripture, God sometimes “opens wombs.” There are times when God shows up. . . a serendipity surprises us! And life is born in the “darkness of human impossibility!” But will you be ready for God’s visitation? Are you ready for His timing?
Rest in God’s “timing,” and be ready for His timing.
- 4. Open your self to God’s fullness.
“In the fullness of time,” God opened Mary’s womb. That kairos moment was in the sixth month after God also opened Elisabeth’s womb, previously barren in her old age. God has His time.
Finally, Mary was open to fullness of God. She was open to His fullness because she was open to the possibilities of God who out of darkness, brings forth new life.
But if we are open to God’s fullness, we have to open His way. His way may require our willingness to look foolish in the eyes of the world. Mary looked foolish because for several months she was pregnant though her marriage to Joseph wa not yet formalized and consummated. Some thought she was an adulteress.
But Mary restined in the knowledge that she was highly favoured by God. She rested in God’s timing. She rested in God’s ways. She readied herself for God’s timing. And she was open for God’s fullness. In spite of all the possible and probable shame and misunderstanding that were to come upon her, she said to the Lord, “Be it unto me, according to your Word.”
Someone asked a historian if he could briefly summarise the lessons of history. He said he could, in four sentences. Here is his last sentence: “When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.” Time now for a worn cliché: “Let go and let God.”
There you are. A barren womb. The despair of human impossibility. You have been there and done that. Yet God can speak a word to you, a word that brings seed and life to your “womb of human impossibility.” But can you make this one hard confession? “I let go. God, I let you . . . Be merciful to me, a sinner.”
Good news! God favours underdogs. He came to one, as one Himself. So Mary sang, “He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty.”
Some of you know about Evensong. Let me close on the Morning Song: “Be it unto me . . . according to your Word; and there shall be a performance . . . of that which was spoken; for nothing is impossible with God.”