Christmas is a season of mystery and wonder. I think we see it most clearly in the eager eyes of children. From waiting for Santa to shaking brightly wrapped presents, there is a sense of wonder and amazement as they celebrate the season shrouded in mystery.
But then they grow up like we did, and grown-ups know the answers. As adults we desire to solve the mysteries. Not just the mysteries that surround Christmas, but the mysteries of life. We view them as some form of boundary and so we press to push past them. We feel that if we can resolve the deep questions we can find some kind of fulfillment and meaning. But our quest for answers can have the opposite effect. Instead of enriching our lives the answers to the mysteries of life cause our lives to shrink. I think the lack of mystery and the loss of wonder from our lives brings poverty to our faith and shrivels our souls.
Perhaps no season is filled with mystery as the Christmas season. One of the great mysteries of Christmas is how God takes the little and lowly and makes it marvelous. He chooses people to serve as his instruments and performs wonders through them in ways we least expect.
Why a baby who would live in obscurity for 30 years of his life?
Why at this time? After 400 years of silence with no prophetic word from the Lord?
Last weekend in worship I taught about the mysteries of Christmas and how God speaks his redemptive plan to the world. Using Luke 1:26-38, I observed that God’s great work begins when he speaks to his people. His word precedes his actions.
“In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, ‘Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!’” (Luke 1:26-28, NLT).
God speaks to his people when the time is right. Galatians 4:4 reads, “But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law.” The Greek language uses two words for time. The first, chronos (chronology) speaks of the seconds, minutes, hours, days, and weeks that compose our calendars. The other word is kairos. This word describes the seasons of God’s movement and activity. Kairos is the word used in Galatians. In God’s appropriate season he spoke to Mary.
God also speaks to his people when they are listening. I’m fascinated by Luke 3:2, which tells us that in the year Annas and Caiaphas were the high priests in Israel, the word of the Lord went to John in the wilderness. If Annas and Caiaphas were the religious leaders of Israel, why didn’t the word of the Lord go to them? Why did the word of the Lord go to John who was living in obscurity in the desert?
The simple Christmas story reminds us that God speaks to his people. When his time is right and when people are listening, his word goes forth. And his word prepares us for his movement.