Monday, December 14, 2009

The first missionary, believer, witness and preacher

"When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit....."Blessed are you among women and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears the baby in my womb leaped for joy." Luke 1 vs 41-44.
Mary said, "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me - holy is His name...." Luke 1 vs 46 -49

Mary - the first missionary. A missionary brings the Good News to the nations. Mary brought us, (all nations) the Good News - she carried within her the very Word of God - Jesus. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" John 1 vs 1. The angel Gabriel presented this awesome call from God to Mary. Mary gave her yes - "I am the Lord's servant, may it be done to me as you have said." Luke 1 vs 38. She carried the Word first to Joseph, and to Elizabeth and John (her unborn son); she carried the Word from Nazareth, to Judea and to Bethlehem, where the Word was delivered; and on to Simeon in the Temple and Anna, a prophetess. Mary continued to carry the Word in her heart and soul throughout her life - she was at the foot of the Cross which held the Word before all mankind. What a great missionary!

Joseph, the first believer. At first Joseph was wary of the news Mary broke to him. Like many of us, when we first heard the Gospel we may not have responded positively at first. It seemed a foolish message to our human ears - the Messiah born of a Virgin? A King who was born into poverty - born to a carpenter? He would save us, not by force, but by His death on a cross? And then rise from that brutal death? Crazy! Perhaps we hesitated a little because we knew this meant changing many things in our lives - our comfort zone would be disturbed. Our plans and perhaps dreams may have to be altered - we generally don't like change - even good change disturbs us. So, can you imagine Joseph's thinking at hearing this awesome news for the first time from his beloved Mary - a call to be a foster father to God's Son! In his human thinking it was just too difficult to believe. But God did not get angry at Joseph for doubting and pondering breaking the engagement with Mary. God knows that some of us may need to hear the Good News from a couple different sources before we completely surrender and believe. I remember in my twenties hearing the Gospel clearly proclaimed but I didn't respond at that point - God sent another messenger to me - Billy Graham was that messenger (but that story is for another time). God sent a messenger of encouragement to Joseph - another angel comes on the scene! "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name of Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." Matt. 1 vs 20-21. Joseph believed and surrendered to God's plan. What if the neighbours found out that Mary was already pregnant. In that culture - at that time - it would have been a horrible scandal. And, imagine if the neighbours heard that Joseph and Mary believed they were the parent's of God's Son - the Messiah!? It took great trust in God. Oh that I would trust God with even a small measure of Joseph and Mary's trust.

Elizabeth - the first witness. She was the first to proclaim out loud that the Messiah had arrived. She was filled with the Holy Spirit and said to Mary, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?"

John the Baptist - the first no nonsense preacher. Presenting a warm and fuzzy message was not his style! Maybe wearing camel's hair made him a bit grumpy - was it itchy? Nevertheless, his message was right on - we do need to repent individually and corporately for our sins. "He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins" Luke 3 vs 3. "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near." Matthew 3 vs 1. "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" John 1 vs 29.

As we get set to celebrate Christmas - the birth of our Salvation - I pray that we would take time to reflect on the trust and surrender shown to us by Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth and John.

Posted by: Julie


Terry said...

thank you so much little missionary julie for this not only christmas message but throughout the whole year gospel message.
as i was reading it, the song that david put in here. "ten thousand years" is playing. it goes long just perfectly with your message..
and i might add here, that we have our very own missionary and her name is JULIE!
julie means, youthful, downy..
yes... our very own young and gentle terry

Felisol said...

Go tell it on the mountains that Jesus Christ is born.
Thank you, dear Pilgrim Sister for emphasizing the essence of Christmas.
From Felisol

Julie (Little Missionary) said...

Thanks for your comments sisters. Terry - thanks for reminding me that my name means youthful....I live up to it - thank God for my youthful genes. I always call them my good ole' Irish genes - when my family had big reunions my uncles and aunts used to tell the funniest stories and act them out so I figure it's the Irish in our family line.