A Christmas reflection for Monday, December 25th by Rev. Dr. Liz Mosbo VerHage
Lectionary reading for 12/25/2023: Luke 1:46b-55; 1 Samuel 2:1-10; Mark 11:1-11Selected passage for reflection: Luke 1:46b-55
Luke 1:46b-55 NIV
46 And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”
Christmas Day is here! The waiting of Advent, the preparing for ministry and special events, the music and gift wrapping, the food prep and the traveling, we are now walking into what we prepared for. We are experiencing the high holy day that marked our calendars, our plans, and our time in such a huge way throughout this whole season.
What happens as we live into the thing that we've planned for? What do we do when our prayers get answered, when our "yes" leads to a new thing?
Some of the hardest things to embody can be some of the best, I am convinced. After we acted in faith, or we said yes to a hard ask, or we moved forward in obedience - how do we sit in and soak up the big event, or the prayer that is answered, or make space to look back and give God thanks? Do you ever feel like the waiting and the wondering feels more familiar than living into the goodness, the miracle, and the abundance at the end of it all? Or how do we become people who can accept and receive the answers, the new life that is forming, the dream once it's been birthed?
I picture Mary and her pivotal role all throughout the season of Advent. I remember her because of how much she's at the center of the story, even if we don't name her powerful presence all the time. This young girl with tremendous courage and grit somehow said Yes to a literal otherworldly pregnancy, that then changed her - mind, body, spirit, and heart. Her yes was so risky, it came with such a high cost, and it came with no guarantees. But still she said - yes. She was met with the voice of God, with the presence of God's Spirit at work, and when she was asked to do her part, to respond to God at work, she said yes. And it still amazes me that she did!
Because she said yes all that we know of the Incarnation was made possible; because she said yes God could grow Jesus Christ in the flesh to enter this world; because she said yes God could birth a new thing that changed the cosmos! Because she said yes, we celebrate Christmas today.
Mary shows us the power of yes, and also what to do after God uses and answers our yes. Her magnificat, her song names what God has done with her yes, and magnifies God at work. Did you catch that - Mary makes larger, makes bigger, celebrates loudly all that God has done, in her and through her! She doesn't shrink from God's work, and God's power - she names, look at what God did through me! It has eternal, powerful, far-reaching impact! This is a huge deal! If I am honest, it can be hard for me to celebrate myself, and to name and make big the things God is doing in me, or through my yeses. But what if all of us - especially women and leaders of color, those differently abled or in all kinds of ways made marginal or small by the world - what if we who are often used to being made small, soaked up and magnified God at work in us? What if this Christmas season we paused to see the yeses we are making, the courage and risks and faith we are exercising, and then magnified God doing a new thing through that? Through us even?
I celebrate your yeses this season - whether as a pastor or an advocate, a mother or community leader, an auntie or a prayer warrior, a prophetic speaker or mentor, a business leader or a global development expert - whatever and whoever you have said yes to in your story, know that God can birth miracles through you! Yes you! Through your yes, God's Spirit is at work, and I thank God. May we each magnify God this Christmas Season, and the birth of new life, new dreams, new movement through a young girl named Mary and through each of us choosing to say yes every day. Amen.
Are there places you've said yes to this past year - a commitment, a growing edge, a new calling or new relationship, maybe new boundaries or new limits, growing your health or your emotional strength - where you can see God at work? In what ways can you celebrate yourself and God's power at work?
As you walk into the end of this year, pay attention to where you feel like getting small, or where God is inviting you to magnify the Spirit at work, and your part in it all. Share with someone, or pray through with God, to get ideas for how to better magnify God at work in the coming year and not turn away from making loud the miracles you see and bring forth!
Gracious God, thank You for the ways you do more than we could ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us, and that makes more, makes more than enough, makes new life, throughout all generations, and through your Son who came to be Emmanuel, God with us. We praise you and we magnify you this Christmas Day! Amen.
About the Author
Liz is a leader, writer, advocate, and pastor reimagining how the church can do better, be healthier, and take power and justice seriously. She's mom to a 10 and 15 year-old and has been married to Peter for 24 years. They recently relocated to Chicago after ten years in the Seattle area for Liz to start a new position as Senior Pastor of LaSalle Street Church. She's always up for learning, traveling, building new things, enjoying Thai food, and late nights with good people.