Moments come and moments go, most without a thought. There are some moments, though, that are fastened in our memories. These brief interruptions in time become remarkable moments, maybe even defining moments. These moments may be captured because of what has happened that changed the world. Most of us remember what we were doing when we found out about the attacks of September 11, 2001, or when we heard of President Kennedy being assassinated. We may remember the moment of the birth of a child or the death of a loved one. We are shaped by the moment.
Christmas is about a remarkable moment. In the hustle and bustle of the season we might miss the moment. It happened in Nazareth to a young Jewish woman betrothed to a carpenter. The moment is remarkable because the redemption and salvation of the whole universe hinges on the moment and her response.
Luke 1:26-38 records that the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to tell her that she would be with child and give birth to Jesus, the Son of the Most High. She was confounded about how this could come about since she was a virgin. The angel told her that the power of the Most High will overshadow her and the holy one she gives birth to will be called the Son of God.
Mary’s response is the defining moment that secures the incarnation and ultimately the salvation of the universe. She told the angel that she is the Lord’s servant. C.S. Lewis writes about God’s plan that comes to that moment: “The whole thing narrows and narrows, until at last it comes down to a little point, small as the point of a spear – a Jewish girl at her prayers.” For me, that moment captures the essence of Christmas, more than the harsh trip to Bethlehem, the humble manger throne, the shepherds’ visit, or even the gifts of the Magi. It is the remarkable moment when a young woman offers herself to be God’s servant. It is remarkable because of what unfolds from that moment.
The moment is filled with wonder and mystery. Mary was probably overwhelmed with emotions. The thrill of the visitation and that she had been favored by God for this special service, the wonder of what the next few days and months would bring, the confusion of how to break the news to her fiancé Joseph. What is more remarkable is what God did. Max Lucado in his book God Came Near describes it this way: “While creatures of earth walked unaware, Divinity arrived. Heaven opened herself and placed her most precious one in a human womb. The omnipotent, in one instant, made himself breakable. He who had been spirit became pierceable. He who was larger than the universe became an embryo. And he who sustains the world with a word chose to be dependent upon the nourishment of a young girl. God as a fetus. Holiness sleeping in a womb. The creator of life being created.” The Gospel of John 1:14 states: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” God came to Mary and found one who was willing to be God’s servant. That moment is what is remarkable.
Each of us have had remarkable moments. I bet most of us can remember the moment we surrendered our lives to Jesus as Lord. It may have been a mountaintop experience, or a quiet reflection on God’s grace. What unfolds is the story of our salvation and how our lives have been changed by that decision. It is our Christmas story, as God’s Holy Spirit came to dwell within us, His presence in our flesh. I am glad Luke tells us of Mary and the angel. It is pivotal to our story.
This season of Advent and Christmas, may we reflect upon God’s remarkable moments in our lives. He is an awesome God!
Rev. Andrew Wade is pastor of the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Logan and a member of the Logan Ministerial Association.