In the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke, verses 26 through 38, several gifts are offered to Mary, gifts that may not be on our gift lists.
There is a gift of being selected by God for an important purpose. Mary is chosen. While we might search for several positive things to be said about Mary, the initiative for the selection rests solely with God. There is no indication that the choice was earned by any human act. God is free to choose whomever He wills to be his servant.
God has called all sorts of people to be his servants. Many questioned God's selection. "You want me to do what? Surely there are others more suited for the task!"
With the selection came a powerful affirmation: "Do not be afraid." This affirmation is much more than the release from a moment of fear. It is rather being released from the control of fear throughout the journey of our entire life. God promises to be our guide as together we navigate the journey.
There is a gift of the revelation of God's larger plan. God intervenes in human history in a unique way so that the influence of His love touches every life. It sounds like a grandiose idea - one action impacting all history that follows and every human life lived in that history. God's purpose is larger than one person or one period of time.
While we may be interested in focusing upon how Jesus was born of Mary, the more significant question would be what motivated God to enter human history in this way. The best reason has been expressed in the Sunday School memory verse:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son ..."
What would move God to forgive and restore all our relationships? God's love. What would move God to reverse the horrors of the crucifixion with the amazement of the resurrection? God's love. Love is what motivated God as He came in Jesus. Love is what motivates God as He comes to us.
There is a gift of trust even when we don't understand every detail of the path we are called to follow. "Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." What an unlimited surrender Mary gives to the Lord who has selected her! Trust is a choice we may make.
There are numerous dimensions of the natural world which we believe and trust in but cannot see. We cannot see the wind apart from the effects of the wind. We cannot see magnetism apart from the effects of the magnet.
We cannot see love as an element to be placed under a microscope. We see love when it is exchanged and experienced in a community of God's people. We cannot concentrate forgiveness in a once-a-day pill, but we can see its power when hearts are healed and relationships restored.
All of these small "g" gifts open the way for the big "G" gift.
Jesus is the Gift. When we receive the Gift of Jesus, we experience the joy of being selected as God's servant.
Jesus is the Gift - revealing that God's larger purpose is to reach out to the human family with the love that is stronger than any human resistance.
Jesus is the Gift - seeking to have us trust Him in the midst of situations which fog our minds and stress our emotions. This Christmas let us choose to be influenced by Jesus, the Gift.
- Faust is the pastor at St. John's-Newberry United Methodist Church