While rereading the accounts of Christmas again, it occurred to me - God's powerful act of Incarnation couldn't have come to a more unlikely group of people. His mighty actions and revealed plans to change everything elicited a very weak response from those who received the news.
Zachariah doubted God and couldn't even believe when an angel showed up.
Joseph searched for another way to explain what Mary had told him.
Even Mary, a model of faith, asked "How can this be...?"
Each and every one of them had a moment or moments when the situation they were presented with was just too much to believe.
Have you ever been there?
I sure have.
There have been times where, despite years of trying to live a live of faith and devotion to Jesus, something will happen and I'll silently ask the question "How can this be...?" Or really, how in the world am I going to make it through this?
To that question, God answers - "wait."
Uh, not really helpful - see we have this situation here and I need to get it fixed. And to that you say - "wait?"
I realized when I typed it that "wait" is not a word we would ever associate with Christmas, unless we add the obligatory "I can't.." as a prefix.
And yet, waiting is exactly what God required of each of the people involved in Christmas.
Zachariah and Elizabeth had prayed for a son all their married lives.
Joseph and Mary agreed in their betrothal to wait a year before consummating their marriage.
Even after the angel's announcements to them, there was the usual nine month wait for the babies that were promised to appear.
How long have you been waiting for your Christmas miracle to come? I'm not talking about that long promised pony or motorcycle.
I'm thinking of that moment when the faith you have...
...expands to fill your whole life. When this verse becomes reality... to you.
What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see. Heb 11:1 (NLT)
You know what?
I'm encouraged that Zachariah wouldn't take an angel's word for it. And in a way I'm grateful for Joseph's worries and Mary's concerns.
Because I am no weaker than they were, when they failed to grasp Christmas.
But then it's not about us, in our weakness.
It's about God, and His unfailing love. Remember what Gabriel said? "For nothing is impossible with God."
We can have the faith they had when we, like Mary, say to God, "let it be to me exactly as you wish. I trust you."
May we all be given the grace to do just that.
Grace and peace,