Word of the Month

Christmas – Unreserved trust in God

December 2012

Christmas is associated with a great deal of sparkle and glitter. Just look at everything that is going on! The stores are filled with people! There are lights everywhere! But in contrast to all of this hustle and bustle, the story of Christmas moves our hearts time and again. The accounts of the events of Christmas related in the gospels are insightful and important for us. To start with, let us take a closer look at the situation of Mary and Joseph.

Mary was doubtless a young girl, perhaps between the ages of twelve and sixteen. It was at this age that girls were married in those days. Suddenly an angel appeared to her and told her that she would become pregnant. What a shock that must have been! But the great thing here was her response! She said: “Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 2: 38). That is what it means to have unreserved trust in God. Joseph, Mary’s betrothed husband, also had to experience some unusual things. Rather strangely, Joseph is somewhat out of place in the biblical account. His name is almost never mentioned anywhere except in the context of the Christmas story. Nevertheless, this Joseph suddenly recognised that his betrothed was pregnant. He must have been quite appalled about this! After all, he knew that he was not the father of this child. And for this reason it is probably quite easy to understand why he would have secretly entertained the thought of getting out of this arrangement. Had he married this girl without a word, it would have immediately been considered adultery from a Judaic perspective. But then Joseph received the message of the angel, who told him that the Child was of the Holy Spirit. Joseph took the advice of the angel and stayed with Mary. His trust in the Lord was greater than the shock that was likely associated with this message.

Let us take a step further to the shepherds in the fields. It was they who witnessed the magnificent appearing of the angels who proclaimed the news: “For there is born to you this day […] a Saviour.” This must have been a powerful moment, however the reaction of the shepherds is also quite marvellous: “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass” (cf. Luke 2: 11-15). In their trust in God, they had understood this message.

We also read of the wise men from the Orient. They came because they had seen the star. This too is of note: they were not even part of the Jewish nation. They were Gentiles. But somewhere, somehow, they had come to know that a King had been born. They came to Jerusalem and asked the question: “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” (cf. Matthew 2: 2). They were investigating the interconnections that were at play here, and were ultimately guided to Bethlehem by the star. The wise men allowed themselves to be led by trust in the God of the Jews, whom they did not even worship!

From this I draw the following conclusion: if we have a deep and unreserved trust in the Lord, we will not give up, even when unexpected circumstances arise. Then we will also have a deep longing for the day of the Lord.

(From a divine service by the Chief Apostle)