In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named 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. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him 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 Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on 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 unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
“Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God.”
Don’t be afraid, (insert own name), for you have found favour with God.
Do you have any idea how much God loves you? When the kids were little we used to say, “I love you to infinity and beyond and all around infinity infinity times.” And as much as parents love their kids, it in no way compares to God’s love for us, but that phrase we came up with is perhaps the closest language we have to describing how much God loves us.
As my favourite children’s Bible describes it, God loves us with a “Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love” (Sally Lloyd-Jones, The Jesus Storybook Bible.)
Jesus himself tells us, “As the Father has love me, so have I loved you” (John 15:9). The love God has for us is the same as as each member of the Trinity has for each other. Take a moment and consider that. Jesus loves you in the same way he loves the Father which is the same as the Father loves the Son. If that’s not to infinity and beyond and all around infinity infinity times, I don’t know what is. It’s an eternal, everlasting love and there’s nothing you can do to make God not love you.
And how does this God who loves you with an eternal, everlasting love see you? Because of Jesus, God “has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free form accusation.” (Colossians 1:22) Wow! Whenever you are feeling down about yourself, remember how God sees you – holy, faultless, and no accusation can stand against you.
What a gift God offers us, not just at Christmas but everyday – himself. Mary said “yes” when God was offered to her and the world was changed because of that “yes.”
God still offers this gift today and if you haven’t said yes to it before, I pray that you do.
If you have said yes to it, take some time to ponder the depth of his love for you. A love that led him to be born to a poor couple with hay for a bed. A love that led him to the cross that you might be his.
Let us pray.
Lord, may your glorious riches strengthen us with power through your Spirit in our inner being, so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith. And we pray that we, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that we may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (from Ephesians 3:16-21)
No questions – just take some time to reflect on the depth of God’s love for you and the people around you.