You know what’s impossible? That I could jump to the moon. That a virgin could concieve a baby. That my dishes will be done and kitchen cleaned by my teenage boys without me asking before I get home from work. And that anyone would ever love Jesus.
What follows here are some of my thoughts from the church notes I took as my pastor preached yesterday, “It’s a strange thing we believe as Christians.”
I’m often overwhelmed by the impossibility of ever trying to explain what it is I believe. I don’t mean it’s hard to say, “I belive Jesus is the son of God who died for my sins.” I mean it hard to explain what has happened to me.
My pastor compared what happened to Mary the day the angel Gabrielle appeared to her to announce that she’d be bearing a baby who is the long awaited Savior God had been promising for millennia. Like Mary, every true Christian has had a very strange thing happen to them. Like Mary Chrisitans spend their lives sorting out what God has done in their lives. Like Mary, we believed a message we heard about Jesus. We don’t know how it could possibly happen, or what is even actually happening. We just know when we heard that old, old story, about a Savior came from glory, we believed it! And right there, just like Mary, the Holy Spirit overshadowed us, and Jesus began growing in us. Not in our womb, but in our inward parts. A new life began growing in us, and it’s a strange thing, and we’re sorting it out, and we can’t quite explain it.
Like Mary, God has chosen unlikely us and we ask, “How can this be?” How can it be that a coward like me could be brave and be willing to take risks, be rejected, be misunderstood, be willing to go low and be humbled? How can it be that a hardened, stubborn heart of the one I love could ever possibly abandon the pride of his hard work and embrace the free gift of a Savior he’s never seen? How can the hurt, the doubting, the forgotten, the abandoned, the abused, the abuser, the opressor, the happy, the comfortable, the rich, the easy-going…. how could any of us ever possibly love Jesus? Why would we want to when loving him means we, like Mary, will surely be misunderstood at best and loose everything, even our own lives at worst?
Like Mary, the only way anyone ever experiences the miracle of Christ in them- loving the Jesus they have never seen and would never turn to on their own- is if the Holy Spirit of the living God overshadows them. No one ever loves Jesus without the miraculous power of God’s Spirit overcoming their hard and dead hearts.
Like Mary, we who are perplexed by the wonder of this Jesus, alive in us, would surely feel cut off from the world and totally alone if it weren’t for the family of fellow perplexed Jesus-lovers God has drawn us to. The church. Mary wasn’t left with the good news that would bring with it pain, a pierced heart, blood and tears in deep joy and unexplainable hope. God gave her Elizabeth. Barren Elizabeth, six months pregnant with the one who would point his people to Jesus. Elizabeth and Mary shared a joy they could not explain away. They shared a hope that with their God, nothing would be impossible. And that is our hope too.
Like Mary and Elizabeth, we bear a life-giving hope- a miraculous hope. And like Mary and Elizabeth, we are not alone. We have each other. A strange people, who love a Savior we have never seen. And this Jesus we love has sent us out into the world to love each other in such a way that the world scratches their heads and wonders just what has happened to us.