Saturday, November 28, 2015

Thankful for Mary at Christmas

Thankful for Mary at Christmas

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38 ESV)

Do you ever stop to think about the people's whose shoulders you stand on? Even in the mundane, there is much one might learn. Just think of driving. Thank You, Lord, for the innovations of Henry Ford! Ford didn't invent the automobile –he stood on someone else's shoulders!-- but Ford did make cars possible for the masses. However, who made roads available for the masses?

From stone paved roads, thousands of years old, in Ur, which is modern day Iraq, to the ancient timber roads discovered in Glastonbury, England to the modern tarred roads which were the result of the work of two Scottish engineers, Thomas Telford and John Loudon McAdam, we see discovery and growth that today allows us to go far and go fast.

There is a popular rumor that links Adolf Hitler to the invention of Germany's autobahn, which added inspiration to American interstates and super-highways the world over. No one wants to think they stand on the shoulders of Hitler, do they? So, here's the rest of the story...

While it's true Hitler, and his regime, fully embraced the idea of a national freeway system, the idea was born during the days when Germany was ruled by the Weimar Republic. Why, even here in the United States, the Federal Aid Roads Act of 1916 started the process of connecting roads nationally. Of course, through the 20s, 30s and 40s, the United States grew at an amazing rate, so it wasn't until the 1950's that our federal government was able to put forth the tangible interstate system we now enjoy. So, rest easy, Hitler didn't build I-40, nor was it his idea.

Still, the idea that I can get from my driveway down to my beloved uncle's house in Wilmington in under three hours has something to do with Dwight Eisenhower's leadership in building the interstate system and Henry Ford's mass production of automobiles.

What has any of this to do with Light Steps or Thanksgiving or Christmas or Mary or anything?

Good question; it's important to think about whose shoulders we stand on, and to be thankful. Today, thank God for Mary, mother of Jesus. Thank God for using this woman to be a vessel, yes, but, for me, the larger part of my thankfulness is due to Mary's example.

What would you do if God (1) sent an angel to speak with you and (2) told you that you'd become pregnant AND remain a virgin and (3) that baby would be the Savior of the world? I think I would have keeled over in fright.

Mary is afraid, yes, but she asked, “How will this be?” Already, I am encouraged by Mary's faith. She didn't recoil at God's prediction, but did question God's methodology. Praise God, and thank God, for the example of Mary's faith! Thank You, Father, that Mary shows that I can believe in You and still ask questions.

Further, I stand on the shoulders of Mary's beautiful surrender; she said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Ah! that I might live this way, day by day, whatever God might ask of me and for everything He does require of me!

Like the roadways, I can travel the journey of faith, in part, because of all the saints gone on before me. They have shown me faith and surrender by their examples.

For all that God has done, and for all that have embraced His call and commands, this Thanksgiving and Christmas season, I am thankful, humbled and encouraged. 

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