A story with a twist.
By Pastor Henrik Lidman.
I sometimes enjoy watching a movie more the second time then the first time, especially if it is a really suspense filled movie with a twist on the end. As I watch it the second time the bad parts seems more bearable because I know that the ending is going to be good. As the characters in the movie struggle I want to lean into the screen and tell them that everything is going to be OK.
This time of year we reflect on what we refer to as the Christmas story, the characters in this story also struggle as they deal with the script given to them by God.
Mary, a young lady receives a message from an angel, that in itself should scare you a little bit. The angel tells her not to be afraid and that she has been found highly favored by God.
This message is a bit troubling to Mary since at this time in history God only revealed himself to priests and prophets. He then goes on to tell her that she is going to give birth to a son and not just any son but the SON OF GOD.
Knowing how babies are made she asks the obvious question: how can this be since I am a virgin? The angel reassures her that there is plan and that the Holy Spirit is going to overshadow her. It is at this time in the story that you want to reach into the screen and tell this young lady that everything is going to be OK.
After hearing that her relative Elizabeth also is going to have a baby she starts to accept the new script for her life. You see Elizabeth was known for being the “barren one” and if God could do this for her then He could do it for Mary also. Mary’s response to the angel is fantastic:
“Then Mary said, ‘Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:38 NKJV) Her courage and surrender to God’s plan for her life is model for all of us to live by.
In the meantime her fiancé Joseph is busy preparing a place for her to live in. The book of Matthew introduces him as “being just a man.” I am not sure about you but I would have a hard time hearing that my fiancé is pregnant and the explanation being that it was the work of the Holy Spirit. Again, we have to remember that most of us have read this story before but Joseph is standing there scratching His head going: this is the weirdest twist I have heard about, who wrote this script?
For Mary to be pregnant was wrong on so many levels: morally, culturally and even legally. The punishment, if Joseph chose so would be stoning to death. That is why it says “and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.” (Matthew 1:19 NKJV)
Joseph is desperate, he has some decisions to make. Again I want to lean into the screen reassuring him that everything is going to be OK: “Don’t do anything stupid, Joseph. I saw the ending, it’s all in the plan.”
The story goes on:
“But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.’
So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and they shall call His name Im-manū-el,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.’” (Matthew 1:20-23 NKJV)
From this time forward Joseph became the protector of the very seed of God that was growing inside of Mary. His life was changed by an encounter with God.
Both Joseph and Mary are heroes, real heroes not fairytale heroes. The director of this production is real. The story is not finished, God is still writing HIS story on earth. My prayer is that we will have the same attitude as Joseph and Mary, submitting to His calling and letting Him transform us one encounter at the time.
Henrik Lidman is senior pastor of Prayer and Praise Assembly of God, 509 N. Staffon St., Ludington, www.pandp.org.