In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him 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 ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to 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 holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
Luke 1:26-37 (NRSV)
I come from a tradition which, at this point in our history, does little with Mary in the Bible. We kind of want to get “straight to Jesus.” (And, let’s face it, culturally we’re trying to get to the stuff under the tree.) But in doing this we miss all that is wonderful about this young girl who bore God’s Son. While many in the West refer to her as “The Mother of God,” the Greek Orthodox Church has a great name for her. They call her THEOTOKOS, which means “God-bearer” or “the one who gives birth to God.” This is a great name for the mother of Christ, a child both fully God and fully human.
But while her story is ultimately about the child she brought into the world, it is, for many, a great story about faith. Before the shepherds hear the angels sing, before “the stars in the heavens look down from the sky,” long before Magi made their journey, and even before the trip to Bethlehem for the census that fulfilled the prophecy of Christ’s birth…before all of this…we have young Mary saying YES to Christ. She is the first to say yes to the Lord. What an example!
Whatever your religious background, whatever your history, I pray that you say “yes” to Christ this Christmas season. And, perhaps, you’ll find your guide in this young girl who said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”