As I sit here in our cozy lil’ cabin gazing at the glistening snow I have had time to slow down and reflect on this “Christmas” season. The song “The First Noel” playing over and over in my heart. Being the word gal that I am I decided to research the meaning of Noel. It means “Christmas.” OK, simple enough. Then I looked up Christmas, thinking I knew the term well. Christmas means…… Christ Festival. A festival just for our Savior. But wait! A festival for an unplanned pregnancy? That’s right, we celebrate life. A life that matters. A life that came to save the world. A life that came to die for us. Whoa! I’m getting ahead of myself.
Here is how it began. Like most of our stories in Embrace Grace, a 17 year old girl received some shocking news.
In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man name Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.
I don’t know about you, but I’m with Mary. What a greeting! Me? Highly favored? The Lord is with me? You see, far too often we see ourselves through our own eyes, our own faults, and our own skewed choices. How could I possible view myself as favored, especially highly favored? Mind you, Mary was still a virgin, but I’m sure she had some issues she dealt with internally that would lead her to believe otherwise. How could the Lord want to be “with me” after all these harmful decisions I have made? OK, let’s move on.
But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”
“How will this be, Mary asked the angel, “Since I am a virgin?”
WHAT!! I’m pregnant?! There is that shocking news. But wait. Mary was told ahead of time. It was hard enough digesting this news after the fact. But to be told ahead of time that I was going to be pregnant? Now? At 17? Right now, before I’m married? Before I graduate high school? Before my life is ready? Before………. Whatever the scenario or circumstances of your life, this news is slightly disturbing at best. And for Mary, even more puzzling because she was still a virgin.
AND….. This man child was going to save the world? God’s baby boy? A king? Jesus? What kind of a name is that?
Jesus = Yahweh is salvation
Yahweh = to become
Jesus = to become salvation
Personally, I think Mary’s response was pretty calm! Let’s read on.
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”
“NOTHING” NO-THING, is impossible for God? But God, this seems impossible. A pregnancy. An unplanned pregnancy? Not impossible? This is not what I planned God. This is totally “UNPLANNED!”
This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
This is our Lords answer to the things that seem unplanned to us. We see our lives and the events of them to be random, surprising, unplanned, shocking, and sometimes downright disturbing. But nothing catches God off guard. He has a plan. An unseen plan, but not “Unplanned.”
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Mary’s response to what she has just been told? It is nothing short of amazing, and we can glean so much wisdom and peace from it.
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
Did Mary feel afraid? Probably. That is why the angel told her not to fear. Was this “unplanned” plan confusing? Yes. This is why she responded with “how can this be?” The list of possible thoughts and fears could be numerous! I know I had so many thoughts and fears when receiving the news of my unplanned pregnancy! Did God not understand the timing, the methods, and the mess my life was already in? And now He wants to add a baby to the mix! Needless to say, my response was not near as “grace filled” as Mary’s! “May it be as you have said?!” Really? Oh to have such faith and confidence in what seems an impossible situation!
And then, to top it all off, Mary sings! SINGS!
At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”
And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
For He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
For the Mighty One has done great things for me—
Holy is His name.
His mercy extends to those who fear Him,
From generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
But has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
But has sent the rich away empty.
His has helped his servant Israel,
Remembering to be merciful
To Abraham and his descendants forever,
Even as he said to our father.”
I love that our Lord had Mary go to Elizabeth upon hearing this “unplanned” news! He, our God, knew to surround Mary with someone who would rejoice with her. To encourage and lift her up during this fearful and somewhat confusing time. To point her to praise and worship of the very one who has given us life.
In no way am I comparing myself or any other mommy who has experienced this news with our Lord’s mother. The birth and life of our Savior is incomparable! Or am I intending to diminish the life and death of our King. He took our place. He understands our struggles. And only He could pay the price for our life. But our Lord gives us example after example of how valued and precious life, every life, is. To Him and to this world. His plan. His purpose.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
I am so humbled and blown away at our example from our Lord how to accept His plan. How we can show love no matter the circumstances or timing. This is how the God of the universe reacts to “unplanned” pregnancy. It didn’t catch Him by surprise!
So remember, upon hearing the news of an “unplanned” pregnancy, whether it be yours or someone else’s…………..
1) You are highly favored
2) The Lord is with you
3) Do not be afraid
4) God has an amazing plan for you and your baby
5) Jesus became our salvation
6) NOTHING is impossible for God
7) You are the Lord’s
8) Have faith
9) Surround yourself with others who are encouraging
10) PRAISE GOD!
While talking with others who experience an unplanned pregnancy, whether theirs or their mothers, their lives and those of the baby have touched so many other lives. There is only one Savior, but we, who have chosen life, have and continue to reach so many that others may not be able to. My daughter of my unplanned pregnancy is now a pediatric oncology/cardiac/sickle cell nurse saving other babies on a daily basis. And I am speaking out for other mommy’s that are facing unplanned pregnancy and to their families to be healed of the shame and fear almost always associated with “unplanned” pregnancy.
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before your life and death, blessings and curses. NOW CHOOSE LIFE, so that you and your children may live.
Rejoice! For we celebrate this Christ Festival!
We celebrate life. All life. It all began on “The First Noel.”
Written by Kathy Easley