Posted by Craig Borlase on 24 December 2014

This time tomorrow - if not already - you’ll need no reminding whatsoever of how hectic this time of year is. If you’re a parent, church leader or in any way conscious, doing nothing is not exactly an option at Christmas. And yet, it’s at the heart of the Christmas story...

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, 

you may now dismiss your servant in peace.

For my eyes have seen your salvation,

which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:

a light for revelation to the Gentiles,

and the glory of your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother marvelled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

Luke 2:29-35, NIV

At the precise moment that Mary realises that she's unmarried and pregnant, and that her public image could do with a little bit of touching up, she does something wonderful: she changes nothing. She carries on trusting in God.

Having lost what social currency she may have had, and found herself at risk losing Joseph too, she stuck by her faith, even though God's encouragements to the couple were hardly brimming with good news - check out what happened when they bumped into Simeon and Anna at the temple in the passage above. Although it must have been wonderful to hear God’s words confirmed again, all that stuff about the sword that would pierce her heart must have stuck with Mary throughout her life as Jesus grew up and began his ministry. Not an easy thing to live with.

The pain of God's calling carried on: they were forced to live as a refugees (Matthew 2 v13-23), only to return to realise how many friends and relatives had lost their baby boys during Herod’s slaughter, all because of their son.

Being ‘used’ by God can be difficult and painful. Choosing to trust God when our desire to grab life’s steering wheel can be excruciating. And yet it was in a family marked by this patient, humble, courageous determination that God chose to place His most precious gift.

In the midst of food and gifts and services and films and relatives and credit card statements and tea towel headdresses, the same challenge extends to us all; can we find the resolve to be defined by the extent to which we say ‘yes’ to God?

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