Southminster Presbyterian Church

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Blessed: A Christmas Eve Meditation

Ken Onstot 

Scripture: Luke 1:26-35

The angel said to Mary, “Greetings, favored one, the Lord is with you.”

But I wonder if Mary really felt favored.

Living at home with her parents, unmarried and pregnant, did she feel favored?

And when Joseph found out, did he feel favored?

Later when their child was born, miles from home, a cattle trough for a cradle,

did they really feel blessed?

How about when they fled as refugees to Egypt to escape Herod’s soldiers?

Or when their twelve year old boy stayed behind at the temple, and his parents spent three days looking for him?

I don’t think Mary always felt favored,

especially while watching her son die on a cross.

Those whom God chooses may not always feel blessed.

Sometimes they may wish God has chosen someone else:

Like Moses when the Israelites complained about him,

Like David when King Saul tried to kill him,

Like Elijah when he fled from Queen Jezebel,

Like the apostle Paul when he was shipwrecked on his way to Rome.

 

To be chosen by God does not always feel like a blessing.

Sometimes it is confusing.

Sometimes it is disturbing.

Sometimes it is scary.

 

The blessing is in the promise that comes with it.

“Greetings, favored one, the Lord is with you.”

The Lord is with you!

The Lord is with you!!

That’s the blessing!

Mary, when you go into labor on a pile of straw,

the Lord will be with you.

When you flee as a refugee in the middle of the night,

the Lord will be with you.

When you anguish over your lost child,

the Lord will be with you.

And when you watch your son hang on a cross,

the Lord will be with you,

holding you until the day of his resurrection.

 

And you, here tonight, to you the angel is also speaking:

Do not be afraid.

Do not be afraid!

When you are sick and wonder if you will ever get better,

do not be afraid.

When you are out of work, and wonder how you will survive,

do not be afraid.

When you despair for your children, alternating between anger and grief,

do not be afraid.

When your heart breaks over the loss of a loved one,

and you wonder if you will ever feel joy again,

do not be afraid.

Do not be afraid!

For the Lord will be with you.

 

When you are confused and don’t know which way to go,

the Lord will be there.

When you feel alone and forgotten,

The Lord will be there.

Even when everything is going well,

even when there are no dark clouds on your horizon,

the Lord will be there, preparing you for something greater:

a life of love that you cannot yet imagine.

 

Jesus is Immanuel—God with us.

He will reign over the house of Jacob forever.

And his kingdom will have no end.

Neither death nor life,

neither height nor depth,

neither things present nor things to come,

can separate us from his love,

if we trust our lives into his hands.

Amen.

 

"Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care."

Psalm 95:6-7