In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
Advent is a season that helps me slow down. I know it may feel counterintuitive to the culture of the hustle-and-bustle-to-do-list wrapped in a bow, but this season invites us to sit and be mesmerized by it all. I love the story told in the Gospel of Luke for many reasons – and not because it makes A Charlie Brown Christmas story 10x better. My childhood church used to put on a Christmas play for the community each year. We would begin practicing for this play in late summer. It brought a whole new meaning to Christmas in July! In practicing our lines and learning the materials we would hear Jesus’ birth story from Luke over and over. Our director assigned my little sister, who was about three years old at the time, to recite the Luke passages as part of the play. I get tears in my eyes just thinking about how a precious, tiny human could remember the Luke passage and mean it when she recited it. I hope that you can read Luke 1-2 in slow motion. Like a scene from a movie where the world pauses and you are flooded with memories of your past, those you love, people you care about, beautiful moments, and a baby born into a world. May you ponder it the way that Mary did. I can only imagine that Mary had a major “life flashing before her eyes” moment as she processed the news the angel brought. May you never fail to see the Christ in others and the beauty in slowing down.
Creator God, help us rest in your hug.
On the days when we have no option but to be busy, we ask for you to show us a moment of pause.
On the days when we do not have words and ache with the world, may we sit beside you.
Help us to hear the cries of the Christ child and respond with justice and peace.
May we know the gift of a good story and scoot closer waiting to hear what comes next.
We are grateful to be reminded of such a season as this. Amen.
Spend time with someone who will capture the Christmas Spirit with you. Explore the lights, the sights, the sounds, and the tastes of Christmas.
Pause and take it all in. Even at the busy and loud gatherings there is always something to learn and someone to be loved.
Try to be a kid again. Take in this season with a renewed sense of wonder.
Rev. Morgan Pajak, Associate Campus Minister and Director of Community Engagement