Christmas is a wonderful time of year—the most wonderful if the song can be trusted. From Thanksgiving to December 25th, we overload the DVR with Christmas movies. Carols, albeit beautiful, are played exhaustively, and we regale the traditions of family and all manner of wonderful things. Even for Christians, the holiday has become so commercialized and sappy (don’t get me wrong, I love a good dose of sap every now and again—my DVR is full) that we sometimes forget that Christmas brings with it some serious messages we shouldn’t forget. One of those messages is the importance of saying, “Yes” to God, even when we don’t know what consequences will come because of it—or even when we do know.
We’ve heard the annunciation story: once upon a time an angel came to Mary; she said yes. Joseph wasn’t convinced until he received his own angelic visit, and then everything was ab-fab until there was no room at the inn and the baby Jesus was relegated to the barn…
And they all lived happily ever after
But did they? First the weight of Mary’s yes has to be considered. When she said, “let it be done to me according to thy word”, she was essentially saying , “I’ll lose Joseph, even if he doesn’t have me stoned to death—but truth be told, I’ll probably be killed. That’s all right; I’ll risk it for my God.”
Would you have said yes?
In today’s society morals and integrity are bartered for pennies. You’ve seen it happen in real life and on TV, I’m sure. If-I-have-to-bend-the-rules-to-get-ahead,-if-I-have-to-twist-the-truth-or-outright-lie,-I’ll-do-it-if-it-gets-me-what-I-want happens so often these days that it’s almost so commonplace we rarely notice the wrongness of it. I call it the spirit of Judas—just gimme my thirty pieces of silver, truth be hanged. (Scared, incredulous, confused, or nay, Judas knew deep down Who Jesus was. He’d simply deluded himself, because that’s what we do when we’re scared, only to wake up one sad day and realize the damage we’ve done—hopefully we simply ask forgiveness rather than following Judas’s example.) If we’d sell our soul for so little “mammon” just to be comfortable, just for fame, fortune, kudos or whatever, how would we ever say yes to God if it meant facing possible execution?
Mary is a hero of epic proportion! Just for saying yes.
After she says yes, she has to face Joseph. And guess what? He doesn’t believe her. Sure he knows she’s honest and virtuous and good wifely material—they aren’t strangers to each other; he agreed to marry her, so he knows she’s all those upright things. But when she tells him about the angel and about the pregnancy, he doesn’t believe it… Her word isn’t good enough. Even though Joseph, deep down, knows it should be (sound familiar?) . The truth is too difficult to fathom. It actually takes an act of God to get Joseph to believe her. How did Mary feel about her fiancée’s misplaced mistrust? How would you have felt? Betrayed? Abandoned? Alone? Relieved when he finally came around, or indignant? Would you have taken Joseph back after he impugned you that way, or would you have held a grudge?
Mary rests in the truth and understands why he was skeptical. Her inner hero is shining through, and she cuts him some slack (aka grace). Her trust in God to take care of her and her baby supersedes the temptation to harbour ill will.
But the bumpy journey doesn’t end there. After Jesus’ birth, they’re forced to flee in order to keep the little Messiah alive. Can you imagine? You’ve said yes to God and your reward is an unjust target on your back, years of exile in a foreign land, and the excruciating heartbreak of having to watch innocent babies murdered in your child’s stead. Would you have stayed faithful, continued to say yes? Today, would you risk life and limb, home and family and friends, and everything you have in life simply because God asked you to do something for Him?
I hope the answer is yes, because that’s the beauty and the joy of Christmas.
A lowly woman said yes, regardless of the possible detriment to herself, because she knew without doubt that if she remained faithful God would take care of her. Yes!
(Because of Mary’s yes, the Saviour was born.)
A Saviour was born at great, and ultimate, mortal detriment to himself so that love could be manifest to all. Yes!
(Because of the Son’s yes, you and I can have eternal life)
A humble carpenter chose to leave behind comfort and livelihood so that he could protect and nurture God’s Son—the salvation of the world. Yes!
(Because of Joseph’s yes, Jesus was able to grow as a man and fulfill the will of the Father.)
Christmas is about yes, no matter what.
Yes in the face of hardship; yes, even if we’re reviled, falsely accused, hated or rejected, even by those who know better; yes, even though God’s favour sometimes comes wrapped in suffering; yes, because yes to God is a manifestation of faith, and faith is the only way to receive the joy and peace that comes from a deep communion with Christ—a communion that begins at Christmas and can be everlasting if we continue to say, “Yes.”
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my saviour
for He has looked with favour on his lowly servant.
Blessed Christmas to all. Yes!
Nicola Martinez, Editor-in-Chief
Pelican Book Group