As you settle down to enjoy this month's newsletter, I encourage you to take a moment to peruse Luke 1:26 - 38 before reading my message below.
Have you ever received a message that left you feeling excited but apprehensive at the same time? Perhaps it was news of an unexpected promotion that required you to relocate, or an award that lead to fame you never saw coming. Perhaps later in life, you fell pregnant after being told that you would never conceive. As one digests news of this nature, you may experience jubilation and also confusion, as you try to process what the situation may mean for your life.
There is a sense from the passage that Mary respectfully sought clarification about the news the angel had just given her, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34 NRSV). It must have been mind-blowing for her to comprehend what she had just heard. Her? A virgin? Pregnant with the Son of God? The news certainly frightened her, “…she was much perplexed by his words…” (Luke 1:29). In the context of her community where women were held in low esteem, it would have been natural for her to be terrified. There is certainly a sense of trepidation that engulfs this story.
This was all ‘news’ to her, but it was not news to God. The virgin birth was prophesied in the Old Testament and God was fulfilling his promises. Since the beginning in Genesis 1:2, God revealed how he creates beauty from nothingness, “…the earth was a formless void.” He was about to transform Mary’s empty womb, without any human seed, into a space filled with new promise and life.
This Scripture provides evidence that if a significant life event is from God, we need not fear, “…Do not be afraid…” (Luke 1:30). In fact, we will have God’s favour and presence as we obey Jesus’ call and direction for our lives, “…favoured one! The Lord is with you…” (Luke 1:28). This dramatic encounter resulted in Mary conceiving a new life that would change the world. In our context, a turn of events which seems unpredictable, may be God’s way of birthing something fresh and incredible in our lives. God specialises in taking the vast darkness, and restoring it for Jesus’ glory!
God’s reassurance lead Mary to relax and accept this strange and unknown future that lay before her, “…let it be to me according to your word…” (Luke 1:38). Acceptance equates to surrender; and surrender equates to trust. To trust your life into God’s hands may feel risky; however, being in God’s plan and purpose is the most assuring decision one can make.
As we face unexpected challenges in life, led by God we can assuredly say that we will overcome, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37). Mary offered herself to God’s plan, “Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord…” (Luke 1:38). God seeks the same from us – an offer of our complete lives into Jesus’ hands to be used for God’s purposes. Mary placed her faith and devotion in Jesus and trusted God for the road her life was about to take. Will we do the same today?
BETHLEHEM These photos are of the proposed site of Jesus' manager in Bethlehem. Entering this space was a profound moment where holiness, divinity and sacred mystery collided. May the reality of Bethlehem's significance touch our hearts over Christmas this year as we ponder the humble barn and 'straw cot' that cradled our Lord.
Is there a child in your life who you wish could come to church?
Why not invite them to attend our Kidz Church program which runs every Sunday during the worship session. Children are also treated to a fun story with the greater church family before heading out to their classes. Children are also invited to participate in the service at various times.
Bring along your children or grandchildren, or invite friends and neighbours with their little ones to come along and join in the fun! For more information contact Rev Iris Marais firstname.lastname@example.org
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CHRISTMAS SERVICE INVITATION CARDS
Please find Christmas Service Invitation Cards as displayed above on the table at the auditorium door. You are encouraged to invite friends and family to our services; but more importantly, neighbours in your street who you may not have connected with before. As we offer an invitation of friendship and inclusion to others, we just don't know who we might be reaching with Jesus' love. Your invitation may be just what someone needs to receive today.
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