In the first Christmas, there are two questions asked in reply to the angel Gabriel’s two birth announcements.
When Zecheriah is told his elderly wife will give birth to John the Baptist he asks, “How can I be sure?” (Lk. 1:18) When the Virgin Mary is told that she will give birth to the Son of God she asks, “How can this be?” (Lk. 1:34)
Two birth announcements. Two questions. But what happens next couldn’t be further apart. Gabriel tells Zecheriah he will not be able to speak until the child is born “because he did not believe” his words. (Lk. 1:20) But after Mary’s question, Gabriel tells her how God will accomplish what He’s promised. Afterwards, Zecheriah sits in silence while “the virgin sings a lullaby”.
The difference between their questions is the difference between wonder and cynicism. Mary’s wonder asks how but trusts why. Zecheriah’s cynicism asks how but doubts why. Mary asks to gather information so she can understand. Zecheriah asks believing the worst so he can protect his own self-interest.
This year, rethink the way you Christmas and wonder.
You were not born a cynic. You cried out for help as a newborn, expecting to be cared for. It’s only after you were repeatedly hurt in a sinful world by sinful people that you developed the leathered exterior of a cynic. But your God comes from outside of the world to save you from this world. He comes to “prosper you, not to harm you.” (Jer. 29:11) To be suspicious of Him is to miss Him entirely.
When you prepare for Christmas with wonder, you’ll see God work through you in new ways.
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
What does today’s reading tell you about people? (Yourself and others.)
What does today’s reading tell you about God?
How do these ideas change the way you Christmas this year?