Birthdays are celebrated once every year, and it forms one of the most beautiful and memorable days in our lives. We live it like its the first, and we as well make of it like its our last…that’s why one in every 10 well wishers joyfully phrase: “enjoy it,” or “its your day,” or “have a blast dearie.” It is special not in the sense that it comes only but once in a year, but just like every other celebration, what makes it “your day” is that we get gifts from loved ones; gifts which could take any form as a “Happy Birthday” from an unlikely mate could mean a lot more than a gold wristwatch from a friend. In this, there are no celebrations without a celebrant; no gifts without a giver(wellwisher) and no “happy Birthday” without life.
In a few hours we would be celebrating. The atmosphere sets a perfect tone for this event. Christians are joyful and non-christians alike share in the love that comes with Christmas. And then we are taken back by one of the Apostles to 2000years ago, in the first chapter of his Gospel beginning from the twenty sixth verse, where the story of our salvation was born.
Luke’s Gospel is known for its carefully arranged happenings of the events that unfolded – just as his Gospel begins telling Theophilus so (Luke 1:1-4). Another unique feature is the awareness of Luke to the reactions made in conversing, as he’s careful to note the mood. place, person…
Luke starts this beautiful story in the 26th and 27th verse of his first chapter beginning like this:
“And in the sixth month the Angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.”
It is very clear here that a message was sent, and being that it required a sender, a message, a means, and a receiver, for it to be perfectly communicated, it was God who sent the angel to a certain virgin in Galilee, Mary, of which every word the Angel spoke were the very ones from God; and just as Jesus would later on insinuate, “His words are life.”
It would look uncommon and indeed the very knowledge of it could be startling, it was no different as at that time and to Mary herself. Although Angels are beautiful and enjoy somewhat of God’s glory in heaven, it is even more wonderful and graceful to be God’s adopted children through Christ (one privilege the Angels in heaven so lack) but it was so rare and unheard of for an Angel to adore a creature; (for Mary was only a handmaid of God Luke1:38), this was the case; that the angel Gabriel would honour Mary with his words. And indeed, it was God who honoured her. In her home the Angel Gabriel appeared. Mary might have been busy when the Angel came, or she might have taken some rest but whichever way we assume, Luke potrays the scene as Mary to be all alone in the house. And just like any other visitor, his first words were greetings.
“Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!”. Luke 1:29
If I’d go in full explanation of this text, I’d be writing out of context. But
the following verse suggests that this was no ordinary greeting. Mary was a Jew and should be conversant with passages from the old testament scrolls on Angels visit to men, (Tobit) but what made this so different were the words the Angel spoke. Angels are from heaven and they worship the Eternal God, Mary must have known that these words were directly from God.
“But she was greatly troubled at this saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be.”
She was troubled; not because she was visited by an Angel, but because she pondered on the Angel’s words and wondered why such was said to her. Angels are beautiful creatures, buh Gabriel called Mary as being “full of grace.” This to an extent suggests that it was Mary and not the angel that was superior. But knowing how troubled she was and In response, knowing her disturbed mind, the Angel said:
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God.” Luke 1:30
It was here that the angel told her of God’s plan, one which Mary must be conversant with as she was born into a Jewish family to whom the prophecy of the messiah was promised. But having full knowledge of this there still was one part she didn’t understand. If she was to give God a man(flesh), if she was to cooperate with God in fulfilling this prophecy that for thousand of years, the Jews and Gentiles had waited, she would ask “how?”
Going back through Genesis after God created man and then he fell, we learn he lost that grace that incorporated him into that Image he shared with God. But God immediately reveals His plan to redeem man but this He’ll do with man’s full corporation(gen 3:15). She was a virgin and in other to consent, she would know “how it could be, since she knew no man.” And that “how,” the Angel said, was through the Holy Spirit. The Angel had told her earlier that she was full of grace. It could only be possible if she accepted it from God. And as she consented knowing the full promise of God to His people through the messiah to come, Mary was standing for all humanity. She would be the first to know what being with God was like. The first to be restored back to God’s Image and known to be the first Christian, for it was with faith and love that she bore this truth in her heart first, and then in her womb there would serve as His home for 9 incredible months. She carried God within the portals of her womb for she and she alone was given that task of mothering God. Indeed she was truly blessed and as she considered the future blessings that followed her act, Mary standing for all humanity, surrendering herself into the Father’s hands, and lost in that ecstasy of love, she would carry the burdens that followed such honour without fear. For as Simeon would prophesy that: “a sword will pierce through her own heart, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed,” Mary embraced the Cross of Christ just as her Son would Love it to die on it.
But yet still the angel needed a Yes! Gabriel was waiting for a confirmation. And just as what one would expect from a humble virgin with the fear of God, and in a meek and humble tone she said not for herself, but for you and I, for the many centuries to come, Mary accepted to give God a man:
” for behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38
YES!!! Mary was the portal through which God walked into our lives. She made Christmas possible. Through her that prophecy was fulfilled. And through her, God walks into our hearts. And although Christ is the gift; the reason for the season, there’s a lot to learn from His beloved mother. A woman who played a triple role by being the daughter of God the Father; Mother of God the Son, and Spouse of God the Holy Spirit – one blessing only she possessed. Just as she prophesied in her beautiful song of praise( the magnificant) in verse 46-55, in the 48th verse,
“henceforth all generations will call her blessed.”
This is the short but beautiful version of our Salvation. That God became flesh (John1:14) and walked this earth. That through Him we might once more be called sons and daughters of God. And as we celebrate this festive holiday with love, let us not forget that Christ is to be born in our hearts, lived in our lives and mothered by His only beloved Mother – for if she could give us Christ, then as well we’d trust her to take us back to Him. For if God chose her to be that portal He walks into our lives and fill us with His grace, then she’ll take that honour of taking us back to Him. For Christ is our perfect model, but He was God. But on that ordinary level of manhood, that level of we as creatures of the Heavenly Father, Mary becomes our model to copy. For her last words in the scriptures is what she tells each soul…..
“Do whatever He tells you.” John 2:5
That’s her role in our lives, for if she mothered God, then she’s the best and only person we’ll trust to teach us His ways and to do whatever He tells us.
From a devoted heart,
I wish you all a Merry Christmas! And a wonderful New year ahead.
by: Ndionyenmah Prince Ugo