And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid,...” Luke 1:30 (ESV)
It was the last night of practice for the big Christmas play the Pupperville Church kids were going to put on the Sunday before Christmas. The practice had gone very well and the kids were ready for the big night. Soon the parents would be dropping by to pick up their kids but tonight one of the parents was going to need to be picked up.
As Randy was putting away the props from the play, Bill Peterson met him with a bit of a scowl on his face. “I need to talk too you.” he said “I want to know why you told Stella she needed a baby sister and why you’re teaching my kids songs like ‘Christmas Time In My Heart.’”
“Oh, boy,” Randy said as he shook his head, “She didn’t really ask for a baby sister, did she?” “I’m afraid so.” Bill answered, “And it’s going to cause some problems.” “Well,” Randy started to answer, “It all started about a week ago as I was putting together a song list for Sunday School. Mindy and Stella had written a new song and they wanted me to include it in my list but it wasn’t a good song. As I tried to convince them to think about sharing instead of getting, Mindy told Stella how great sister’s were to share with and, well, you know the rest of the story.”
“Oh.” Bill said in response to Randy’s answer, “I guess that explains that, but, how am I going to tell Stella she can’t have a sister for Christmas? As it is now, she’s not only asking but telling everyone that she’s getting one.” “How do you normally tell her she can’t have something?” Randy asked, but Bill just stuttered “I always get her everything.” “I suppose you could tell them what sisters are really like.” Randy told Bill, “Maybe that would change her mind.” “Can’t.” Bill answered, “I never had any sisters.”
As the two of them stood there trying to figure things out, a giggling Martha came walking up. “What are you two up to?” she asked. “Randy and I are trying to figure out how to tell Stella she can’t have a sister for Christmas.” “I wouldn’t even bother.” came Martha’s reply. “Why not?” Bill asked as his lovely wife started giggling again.
“SURPRISE!” Martha shouted back “We are going to have a baby.” Upon hearing that Bill started to stutter and than fainted falling flat on his face. Seeing her husband laying on the floor, Martha said “I think he took that well, now to go tell Harold and Stella.” and she stepped over Bill and left.
As Randy helped Bill back to his feet, he thought about another surprise pregnancy, one that took place in Luke Chapter 1 for it is there we read these words The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus and he wondered if Joseph fainted when he found out as well.
How many of you like surprises? I suppose it might depend on the surprise. Like Bill in our story, my wife has surprised me seven times but unlike Bill I never fainted at the news. Sometimes God surprises us. As we close in on Christmas Day I think of Joseph and Mary and the surprise God gave them. Maybe we can learn something form them on how to react when God surprises us.
Fist we'll read of Mary's surprise from Luke 1:26-38 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!" But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name 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 father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." And Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" And the angel answered 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 called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God." And Mary said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her. (ESV)
Do you see the surprise – Mary was to have a child – and her response - let God's will be done – How many of us would respond in such away?
But let's not forget Joseph in all this for while he was to be married to Mary he was not the one who got her pregnant. We can read about him in Matthew 1:18-25 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel" (which means, God with us). hen Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. (ESV)
Just imagine the surprise for Joseph when he learns his bride to be is pregnant an he had nothing to do with it. How did he react – Under the laws of the day he could have had Mary put to death but instead he wants to quietly call things off so as not to publicly disgrace her – he responded with mercy in love. Than an angel shows up in his dreams and tells him the rest of the story and that he is to go ahead and marry Mary and with out hesitating he does what God asks of him – he responds with obedience.
Next week we'll look at Harold and Stella's response to Martha's surprise but until than...
Here's Something To Ponder
- In what ways has God surprised you?
- How have you responded to the surprises God has sent your way?