There’s this great blessing that I love, often prayed at Christmas time:
“May you be filled with the wonder of Mary, the obedience of Joseph, the joy of the angels, the eagerness of the shepherds, the determination of the Magi, and the peace of the Christ child”
Maybe you've heard it already this advent, or maybe it is new to you. I'd like to journey and see what each characteristic means for us.
“.....Filled with the wonder of Mary…”
I wonder what words you would use to describe Mary, and whether ‘wonder’ would be in your list.
In Luke 1:46-56, Mary has been to see Elizabeth, whose baby jumped for joy when greeted by Mary, and now she’s singing a song of wonder at God’s goodness and faithfulness.
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me--
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”
When we discuss how Mary must have felt, we often choose words like scared, worried, confused. We sometimes forget that here, after visiting Elizabeth, Mary sang a song of praise and wonder.
A song by Bethel repeats, “may we never loose our wonder, wide eyed and mystified, may we be just like a child, starring at the beauty of our king. May we never loose our wonder”
What does it look like to have wonder at Christmas time?
“....filled with the obedience of Joseph....”
Joseph was obedient and followed what the angel had told him. Staying with Mary and trusting in God put Joseph (and Mary) at risk. Joseph could have ran away and said he would have nothing to do with this… although knowing what happened to Jonah, that probably wouldn’t have gone down well either! Instead, Joseph trusts in God, for God is faithful to His promises. Joseph accepts that he has been chosen, and journeys in obedience.
What does it look like for you to be obedient to God? Perhaps for you too, it is saying 'yes' to God and going on a journey, or perhaps it's staying in a place God has called you to be in. Maybe God has called you to love a difficult person, or give to a charity.
“...filled with the joy of angels”
Think of a time that you told someone some good news; remember how joyful that was!
Imagine the joy the angels must have felt, being the ones to share this exciting news with Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds. Perhaps that is why they were so loud and excited about their message, they knew that God was going to come down to earth as a baby, perform incredible miracles and would save the world of their sins!
What does it look like for you to be joyful?
“....filled with the eagerness of the shepherds”.
Isn’t it incredible that God chose shepherds to be some of the first people to hear the news that the Saviour of the world would be born; no wonder they were eager! This baby, that hundred of years ago before, Isaiah had said would be a ruler, Mighty God, Prince of Peace. The shepherds eagerly journeyed to see this mighty, royal, king baby.
What does it look like for you to be eager this Christmas? Not just eager for the presents under the tree, but eager for the presence of Jesus.
“... filled with the determination of the Magi”.
It’s not known how far exactly the Magi travelled. Some scholars say a few hundred, whilst others estimate it’s a few thousand! Either way, it takes some determination to travel any amount of distance to follow the star and see the Messiah. I guess that’s where their determination came from; knowing that at the end of their journey they would see the Saviour of the World. Their determination was pushed by trust and by hope.
What does it look like for you to have determination?
“....filled with the peace of the Christ child”
In Isaiah, it was prophesied that Jesus would be Prince of Peace. Peace crushes fears and anxiety, peace has the power to settle restlessness and stormy weather.
What does it look like for you to have peace this Christmas?
This Christmas, “May you be filled with the wonder of Mary, the obedience of Joseph, the joy of the angels, the eagerness of the shepherds, the determination of the Magi, and the peace of the Christ child”