But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.
Close your eyes and imagine that night with me. Do you feel the “holy hush” in the stable? How do you even put into words the wonder of that night. It must have been breathtaking. Mary and Joseph had to be in total awe as shepherds found them and came to worship the Christ child. All anyone could have done in that moment is worship!
During Christmas, I think about Mary a lot. She was probably a teenager when the angel Gabriel visited her. I am struck by her faith and complete willingness to obey God. Some religions take this to the extreme and worship her, even praying to her. Mary is not deity, but she was specially graced by God.
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”Luke 1:26-28 NASB
The Greek word for “favored one” is “charitoo” meaning “to grace, highly honor or greatly favor” (CWSD). This is specifically used for Mary in that she was God’s chosen vessel to conceive the Son of God through the Holy Spirit. The only other time this word is used in Scripture is in Ephesians.
[In love] He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed [charitoo] on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.Ephesians 1:5-8
Like Mary, we are objects of God’s grace, this grace which He freely bestows on us! “In ‘charitoo’ there is not only the impartation of God’s grace, but also the adoption into God’s family in imparting special favor” (CWSD). This grace is freely offered to us because of Christ (see Ephesians 2:8-9). The beautiful thing about Mary is that she exemplified what Christ wants to do in all of our hearts. He wants to be born in us, for His life to be manifested in and through us. Her response is the response God desires in us.
Mary later testified of this grace to Elizabeth in her famous song of praise to God, “the Magnificat” found in Luke 1:46-55.
“Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For He took notice of His lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One is holy, and He has done great things for me. He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear Him. His mighty arm has done tremendous things! He has scattered the proud and haughty ones. He has brought down princes from their thrones and exalted the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands. He has helped His servant Israel and remembered to be merciful. For He made this promise to our ancestors, to Abraham and His children forever” (Luke 1:46-55 NLT).
Simeon’s prophetic words in Luke 2 surely caused more pondering in the heart of Mary.
Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about Him. Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”Luke 2:33-35 NLT
He was certainly referring to the death of her Son that she would one day witness. The first Christmas was a lot to take in for this teenage girl. But she dearly loved God and by faith she received God’s indescribable gift, trusting that God would give her courage.
Christmas Eve Advent Reflections:
1. Take some time to meditate on the Scriptures listed in today’s post.
2. Do you realize that God has favored you with His grace by sending His Son?
3. Have you received God’s gift of salvation?
4. If so, are you allowing the life of Christ to be manifested in you each day?
This is God’s desire for us at Christmas and all throughout the year. Spend some time praising God for His grace, for adopting us into His family! Open your heart to Him this Christmas. Tomorrow will be the conclusion of our Advent series.
Click here for a gorgeous rendition of “Candlelight Carol” sung by The Cambridge Singers on YouTube.