Sunday, December 24, 2017
Read Luke 1:26-38
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19
Change. It’s inevitable. We’re used to it; we expect it. Without it we even get uncomfortable. Change is a part of who we are.
But some change we tend to fear and become anxious about because we do not feel in control of life. There is a part of us that longs for permanence; the stability of a solid foundation we can depend on. We search for absolutes we can trust, that won’t disappoint us; something that won’t change.
Can you imagine what it would have been like to hear of the changes that were coming in Mary’s life when she encountered the angel Gabriel? I can picture Mary thinking, “Oh, so now I talk to angels! And I’ve never been with a man, but I’m going to have a baby!” In-laws, a new home, new responsibilities; the things that were going to change for Mary must have loomed quite large! One of the profound messages of Christmas is that in the birth of Jesus, God was forever changing the world.
I know change is coming for me. After forty-five years as a pastor, next year I will be retiring. Some of the anticipated changes I am looking forward to, like no longer having to do denominational reports. And some I am not crazy about, like fewer opportunities to extend God’s grace through serving Holy Communion. Some changes will certainly catch me by surprise.
Because I am retiring, changes are also coming for the church I have served for over 30 years. I am sure some of those changes will be welcome; others may be more unsettling. Some of our members will be excited to embrace the change; others may even be fearful and feel paralyzed by the anxiety. We know that God allows change in our lives to help us grow to become more like Jesus Christ in how we respond and act, and to believe His promise that “all things will work together for good for those who love God.”
I pray that I, and our church, will find stability and assurance in the rock-solid permanence of the One who created this constantly changing world and, yet, remains the same yesterday, today, and forever; the One who, in that ordinary yet profound birth, changed Mary’s and our lives forever. And I hope we, too, will respond with faith and trust as Mary did by saying, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as You have [ordained].”
PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, help me to see Your hand in the changes I encounter. May we hear Your voice saying as clearly as Gabriel said to Mary, and then to the shepherds, “Fear not.” We pray in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.
Prayer Focus: those who are fearful of change