In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
The Christmas card has gone through some big changes. There was a day when each one was written out by hand and individually addressed. Technology has simplified much of that.
The purpose of a Christmas card has changed too. Often it served as a kind of condensed history of the sender’s past year. Now we can simply check social media and see what our entire network of casual acquaintances are doing at any time. However, despite the changes in form and function, it’s still nice to get a Christmas card.
At the time of the first Christmas, Mary, the mother of Jesus, got a wonderful kind of greeting. An angel from God came to her with a special message: “Greetings, you who are highly favored!” This message must have taken this young woman by surprise. She did not think she was anything special (Luke 2:48). But the angel had some special good news for her: “The Lord is with you.”
The Lord knew everything about this young woman. God knew her life plans, her hopes and dreams. Most importantly he loved Mary deeply. As God was about to enact the culmination of his plan of salvation for the world he loved, he chose Mary, a virgin, to be a special part of that plan. God chose her to give birth to his Son, our Savior, Jesus.
At times, God’s knowledge of us may make us feel uneasy and ashamed. He knows more about us than posts on social media reveal. He sees the ups and downs, the good and bad moments. He cannot be fooled by outward appearances because he examines our hearts and our motives. He knows our sins—all of them. This is why we need his Son, Jesus Christ, because we are not perfect. As we get closer to Christmas celebrations, our hearts are filled with joy as we read God’s Christmas greetings to us in the Bible. He tells us what he enacted throughout the history of the world to save us from eternal death. God tells us of our Savior who came to open the way to heaven for us.
Christmas cards may make us feel better for a little while, but the Bible gives us abiding peace and lasting joy. Even now, the Lord is with us—just as he was with Mary. We have many advantages in our day and age, but many of the problems and challenges we face are essentially the same. We still live in a sinful world, with a sinful flesh, just like Mary did.
Take comfort in knowing that the Lord is with you. He stands by your side when you feel all alone. He forgives you even when you struggle to forgive yourself. He strengthens you through his gospel when you are feeling weak. He is the Light you long for as you walk in a world of darkness. The Lord is with you and always will be.
Lord God, you are with me. Remind me of your loving and abiding presence throughout this Christmas season. Amen.
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