Mary’s first Christmas adventure starts like any other Christmas. With a sense of urgency.
‘Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea’
- ‘Get involved in the festive frenzy’
Mary is the first person to rush on account of baby Jesus. Swiftly and excitedly she dashed off to her cousin’s house to celebrate the special occasion.
Traditionally, the last couple of days before Christmas are hectic. Shoppers hurry to stores to buy gifts and the Royal Mail works around the clock. This year decorations in a pub were displayed as early as September. Things move more quickly than usual as the big day approaches.
Sometimes life’s too short to slow down. You just have to run with the opportunities that come your way. Be quick to seize special moments and enjoy family occasions.
Inspired by her miracle Mary is compelled to,
2. ‘Sing something happy’
‘my soul glorifies the Lord’
Mary wrote the words to acknowledge the happy event of her pregnancy. In fact, they are more than words, they are lyrics,
‘My soul glorifies the Lord’ is Mary’s biblical folk song.
Technically it’s called the Magnificat.
Did the song have an original musical accompaniment? Was it a light-fingered ballad plucked delicately on a harp? Rocked up on the timbrel? Jazzed up on the trumpet? Did Joseph the carpenter cut a reed make a flute and play the Magnificat one note at a time?
Mary’s song has now been given numerous musical settings from composers like Palestrina, Mozart and Bach.
Scripture records various hymns of praise to God. Many of them written in the psalms before Jesus was born. However, it’s Mary who composed the first modern carol. She was the first person to sing happily about Our Lord in a new way. Mary’s Carol precedes Christmas classics like Away in a Manger, O little town of Bethlehem and the First Noel.
This year if you’re out on the door steps caroling traditional carols, enjoy. If you’re singing seasonal chart toppers on the karaoke, enjoy. Don’t let the pains, sorrows or losses during this 12 months grind you down. Singing something happy is good for the soul. Even if we sing out of tune and our vocal chords sound like a noise. Let it be a joyful noise. Mary also agrees that,
- ‘Even great saints need a saviour’
‘my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour’
Mary included these lyrics in her festive song. It’s nothing short of amazing. They show how she the Mother of Jesus needed a Saviour. She is considered by some to be “immaculate” by an act of God. Yet Mary sings about her personal life as a life which is in need of redemption. Things were not always correct, or tidy for Mary. There’s no doubt in my mind that Mary was a pure virgin and she conceived Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, like everyone else Mary was vulnerable to the challenges which beset human nature.
Understandably, not everyone thinks they need saving. People are independent, responsible, and make their own way in life. But our journeys are not without difficulty.
‘I DON’T NEED SAVING’ is something every passenger on the Titanic could say when the ship set sail.
Not a single passenger on that cruise liner needed rescuing when leaving port. But the ship hit an iceberg. At that moment, the circumstances of all the passengers fatally changed. Perhaps Mary thought she didn’t need saving until she encountered a tyrant-king like Herod?
Everyone takes a big hit in life. The world is full of battered souls who encountered their pictorial icebergs. Adverse circumstances clout people with iron-hard force. Hearts get broken and feel as though they will never recover.
But with God, there’s redemption. Jesus Christ is able to save people from their wounds and their sins and rescue people from Satan’s power.
Mary also reminds us that
- ‘God is multigenerational’
Mary’s Christmas song declared,
God’s ‘mercy extends…..from generation to generation’
Faith is timeless. It spans across generations. This includes the Western Cultural Generations. Can you identify your own generation on this chart?
Age the time of writing*
the time of writing*
|The Lost Generation –
The Generation of 1914
|The Interbellum Generation||1901||1913||104||116|
|The Greatest Generation||1910||1924||93||107|
|The Silent Generation||1925||1945||72||92|
|Baby Boomer Generation||1946||1964||53||71|
|Generation X (Baby Bust)||1965||1979||38||52|
|Generation Y –
The Millennials –
|iGen / Gen Z||1995||2012||5||22|
The above chart can be viewed online @
No generation is excluded from God’s grace. His loving kindness extends through all the passing years. God’s eternal. Anything eternal never goes out of date. It means that God is relevant to you here and now.
The Bible says that king David,
‘served the purpose of God in his generation’.
Mary too, was the Lord’s willing servant in the times which she lived. God’s purpose continues to work through new generations.
And woefully, Mary knows that,
- ‘Hate crimes begin secretly’
‘Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared’.
Herod wasn’t sharing the festive spirit nor the season of good will. Not everyone is an advocate for Christmas. Herod was plotting his hate campaign against the Son of God. At first this hatred was concealed. But eventually it came into full view when innocent children were slaughtered without mercy.
Someone estimates that the infant death toll of Herod’s slaughter may be as high as forty to sixty under 2-year-old children murdered in Judea. This hate crime in Bethlehem began secretly out of public scrutiny. Ironically, even the wise men didn’t know about Herod’s hostility. They were naïve and had to be warned in a dream not to return to Judea, Matthew 2:12.
Hate crimes begin in secret. We have an example of this from history.
November 5, 1937, Adolf Hitler held a secret conference in the Reich Chancellery. He started the meeting by swearing those in attendance to strict secrecy. Then he outlined his evil plot. He spoke about the acquisition of living space for the German people at the expense of other nations. Hitler’s hate crime was initially concealed. But eventually it manifested in the world with a loss of more than 60 million lives. A sorrowful death toll brought about by a hate crime.
But Mary and her family are living proof that,
- ‘You can survive hate crimes’
An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream “get up’ he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt, stay there till I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him”
The terror alert for Joseph and Mary was raised to critical. The rulers of Judea conspired in an act of state sponsored terrorism. Under Herod’s orders soldiers killed all the boys two years or under in Bethlehem and the surrounding vicinity.
Extremists are barbaric. They kill innocent children, murder defenceless citizens and shed blood without conscience. They cut off heads, run people down with trucks, and explode bombs in theatres and shopping centres. But in spite of the hatred, Herod, couldn’t stop Christmas. Mary’s Holy Child arrived safe and well. The family couldn’t be murdered out of their destiny. Jesus had a special mission to accomplish many years later. He became a man, died on a cross, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. This is Easter but our focus is Christmas.
King Herod is long dead. But there are still some haters in the world today, who if it were possible would abolish, outlaw, or destroy Christmas. Their malicious motives may be religious, personal or Grinch inspired. Nevertheless, they can’t win. Hater’s, can’t kill everyone with brutal force. Neither, can Christmas be eliminated by poisonous words.
Mary and Joseph survived the hate crime. As a result, Christmas is celebrated every year. As the sun gives light each day and the moon gives light at night. Christmas Day shines brightly in our dark world.
Mary understood also that,
- ‘Sometimes you’ve got to find another way’
‘Having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, the wise men returned to their country by another route’.
Herod considered Mary’s child as a threat to his throne and sought to kill her baby. The paranoid ruler conspired to torture the wise men for information and then slaughter them. The wise men couldn’t return to Judea. Their lives depended on finding another way back home. They needed also to find another way of navigating their course. There was no supernatural starlight provided for the return journey eastward.
Sometimes, it’s absolutely vital to find another way. Even if you think no other way exists. It’s still possible to find a way where there seems to be no way.
Professor Stephen Hawking recently lectured at Oxford University saying that,
‘Black holes are not as black as they are painted. They are not the eternal prisons we once thought. Things can get out of a black hole. Both on the outside and possibly through to another universe. So, if you’re in a black hole don’t give up’.
Maybe you’re in an emotional black hole? Perhaps the Christmas lights have stopped shining for you? Maybe you’re living through the bleakest of circumstances seeing no way out? I’d encourage you not to give up. Look for another way back to a contented life.
If things can get out of a black hole, with God’s help you can get out of anything. Judea was a dark place but that wouldn’t ruin Christmas because the wise men found another way home.
Mary also testified that
8. ‘Unexpected visitors arrive with unexpected gifts’
No one was more surprised than Joseph or Mary when a group of strange travelers from the East arrived unannounced on the doorstep of the manager. The Median or Persian Magi caused quite a stir and aroused a lot interest. What the men said about the new born child certainly unnerved king Herod and disturbed the people of Jerusalem.
The event is unforgettable. The Bible says
“behold wise men from the East came to Jerusalem”
The arrival was something to behold. A dramatic visitation. Like the stranger who speeds into town driving a high spec Lamborghini. More like a Royal Parade or Presidential cavalcade with pomp and ceremony. These wise men rocked up flashy-style. Unpacked treasures and handed over £1000’s worth of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
The gifts had value and could be sold to raise an income. The finance could have been used over a number of years to pay for the Holy Family’s exile into Egypt. Then a return to the district of Galilee. And eventually to a safe house and set up a carpenter’s business and begin new life in Nazarath. Some of the treasure could be put aside for the child’s future. Monies from the investment eventually used to support Jesus in adulthood. Including his three and a half years fulltime ministry.
Hopefully some nice unexpected visitors will turn up at your house on Christmas Day. When you open the door, they will unexpectedly present you with generous gifts. Not necessarily gifts of monetary value. But valuable gifts of joy, peace and positive sentiment. You never know your good providence. Unexpected blessings have a strange way of turning up in your life.
I shudder to think that the Holy Family nearly missed out on all the nice gifts and presents. The wise men could have travelled the arduous journey from the East to find the Infant God and his parents absent.
Remember, Joseph was going to divorce Mary. If this happened the family unit wouldn’t be together in the manger on the day the Magi arrived. The Magi would have been gutted. Thankfully Christmas was saved.
In a divinely sent dream Joseph discovered that Mary had not cheated on him. The Angel of the Lord explained that she was pregnant but with God’s baby. The pregnancy came through a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. Mary was still a virgin.
Joseph, was the first person who God persuaded to accept the Virgin Birth. There have been more persuaded since. When told by the Angel of the Lord, Joseph didn’t ask for proof. Not even from Mary. On the very first Christmas in history, Joseph accepted God’s word at face value. And this is at the heart of the Christian message and the Virgin Birth,
- ‘Accept Jesus in good faith’
‘Where is he that is born King of the Jews? We have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him’.
The Magi accepted the Messianic title of Jesus as true. Their beliefs didn’t make a small child into God. Rather, God made himself into a small child. It’s something the Magi accepted at face value.
We can be cynical about the Christmas story. ‘Was Mary really impregnated by God’s Holy Spirit?’
Why not? God is the source of all life. Why can’t God’s son begin life in the womb? After all we did.
The Virgin Birth shows that Jesus is no ordinary person. He was worshiped by the Magi before he performed a single miracle.
‘We have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him’.
The men accepted God’s word at face value. The Bible can be taken as it appears. It was written by mere mortals but supernaturally inspired to communicate God’s truth.
And finally, Mother Mary reminds us that it’s possible to
10. ‘Find favour with God’
‘The Mighty One has done great things for me’
Mary appears to be name dropping. She sings about her special friendship with ‘Almighty God’. This is not proud boasting. She’s just humbly saying. She didn’t go around claiming every famous person in New Testament was a friend of hers. Mary does however tell us that she knows personally the One Supreme Power of the universe. She also mentions that her awesome divine friend wrought a couple of miracles on her behalf. It’s been said that,
“The reality of loving God is loving him like he’s a Superhero who actually saved you from stuff rather than a Santa Claus who merely gave you some stuff.”
Criss Jami, Killosophy
Merry Christmas everyone
Bible Blogger, Kevin Coley