Living Nativity

“The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.’ ‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’ Then the angel left her. At that time Mary got ready and…entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit…she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!…Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” – Luke 1:35-45

Over the last several weeks I’ve asked a few mothers about their pregnancy. I asked them about their expectations and surprises. Each mother’s story was unique. Some knew right away that they were pregnant and others were surprised to learn later on. Some spoke more about the emotional affects while others talked about the physical changes. These conversations gave weight to the saying that no two pregnancies are the same. And yet, there was one thing I heard from each mother I spoke with.

You know and you don’t know.

They each spoke of how some of their personal experience went well beyond expectations. Books and stories could only go so far. The testimony of others could not touch the same place as personally living the experience.

For me this is the magic of Christmas. It is the one time of the year when we collectively choose to move beyond hearing the story and we take steps to live the story.

Together, we live as though hope, peace, joy, and love could grow with us. Through acts of kindness and charity, forgiveness and hospitality, we experience first-hand Christ’s story of unexpected visitors and renewed relationships. The Christmas story of wonder and beauty, celebration and promise comes alive through us.

There is a difference between knowing the story and living the story. And as Mary, the mother Jesus, shows us when God calls her, that difference can be as simple as saying yes to God.