Jonathan's Perspective  

Dec 11

'Courage'

We have read many times the story of Mary, the visitation by the angel Gabriel, and Mary’s response, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:38) We forget what a difficult decision she had to make. Mary was a small-town girl – Nazareth had only 200 to 400 people - who lived with her parents and joyfully anticipated a new chapter in her life with Joseph, her betrothed. She was not wealthy and had no significant means at her disposal. She had no influence or position. She was a quiet follower of God rather than a spiritual leader. She practiced her faith in the ordinary way: talking about God at home, listening to conversation about the Torah and the prophets at synagogue, sacrificing at the temple on occasion, and praying daily. In a sense, she was a nobody. Yet, God placed before this simple girl a decision which would impact the whole world throughout time. 

Mary’s response was not a given. Gabriel put the question before her without knowing the outcome. He was asking Mary to put herself on the line. In a town where everybody is in everyone else’s business. Mary could be disgraced, ostracized, have no future for marriage, and perhaps have to move with her family to start over. Her ‘Yes’, her free ‘Yes’, came after a moment of deliberation, a moment of courage. There was no guarantee that she would say yes to God, but she did. How many people would be willing to take on such a difficult future and potential social suicide to say ‘yes’ to God?

S. C. Lewis wrote, “Courage is every virtue at its testing point.” The virtue of trust in midst of social pressures was Mary’s point of courage. How blessed we all are because of her courageous trust in God. What virtue is at its testing point for you? Where is God calling you to step out for him? You may face temptation to not speak in certain settings, not jeopardize a relationship, or lay low about your faith at work. However, God is calling each of us to step up and step out for him. God’s work in the world is dependent on followers being willing to say ‘yes’ like Mary. 

General society has never been completely at ease with the proclamation that Jesus is Lord. In fact, God’s people have been met with hostility throughout history and around the world. Our pressures are the same that others have faced throughout generations. Perhaps they are a lot less deadly, but the challenge for each of us this Advent season is to pass the test of faith, the test of love for the outcast, and the test of sharing the Gospel with a friend or colleague in need.

You have been accepted, changed, and blessed by God – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 

Now it is a time to step up to the call of God to be a blessing to those around you. Courage, my friends. Courage!

Blessings,

Jonathan

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