Sandra and I celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary this week ).
When we got married at St. Margaret’s Uniting Church at Hackett on 17th December 1988. It was our own personal bi-centennial celebration.
I was 26 years old when we got married and Sandra was 23. We were right on the national average at the time.
When I got married I had been living away from home for 9 years. I had lived in a wide variety of accommodation from boarding houses to share houses; from flats to Uni accommodation. I had learnt to be self-sufficient and could survive pretty well ‘baching it’! I had travelled across the country several times by myself…through heat waves, floods and cyclones.
I was independent – but at times missed the close family relationship that I had grown up with.
Then I came to Canberra to study at ANU in 1987– but ended up joining YWAM Canberra instead.
It was there on my first day at the YWAM base (at Watson) that I met Sandra. Little did on know that 19 months and 12 days later we would be married. It was not love at first site…but something that grew out of a shared friendship…and a sense of God’s calling.
It was only when we were engaged did my plans have to stop be so self-focused and start including someone else…this of course was only the beginning of the revelation…Sandra is a very different person, so many of the things I would do had to be compromised so that we could enjoy things together. Not that it was all bad – after being a single…being married had a lot of advantages – not the least having someone who would look after you and mother you…
But that was a short lived period of our lives because we decided to start a family shortly after we were married…
When it came to our first child we were novices…I would say that most parents would agree that its often easier with subsequent children – because you are more relaxed and know (mostly) what to expect. We asked a lot of questions and got advice from a lot of people…we went to the ante-natal classes at Royal Hobart and learnt to breathe…we were all geared up with music…packed bags…and then we waited…
When Jordan finally arrived was about 10 days overdue…things changed. Everything about what we considered normal was turned upside down. Sleep deprivation, once a choice, now was a normal part of life. Our conversation changed; our food choices changed; frankly the arrival of a baby into our family changed everything…and when each of our (5) children arrived it was the same to greater or lesser degrees.
Sandra had someone who was more reliant on her than I was…where I had been at the centre of the universe – now I was pushed out by our baby who required more attention – and was forced to fend for myself again and care for Sandra and Jordan… I learnt very quickly that a baby changes everything.
This week I discovered a song by Faith Hill on YouTube called ‘A baby changes everything’. Follow the link and have a look. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-y0_wNPSOaw
It’s a song that sets Mary’s predicament against film clips from the life of Jesus.
Today we focus in on Mary – who is betrothed to Joseph…a teenage girl…set for a arranged marriage. We read her song of praise (Luke 1: 46-55) her ‘Magnificat’ – as she, under the power of the Spirit, gave her praise to God for the changes that were happening to her and the consequences of God intervention into human history.
This is pre-incarnation stuff…
Gabriel goes to Mary and breaks the news – but what was her response…?
- Not – you ask too much – I can’t do it – it will cost too much – it doesn’t make sense…
- In humility she accepts God’s will…she says…here I am Lord…let it be as you say…let it be according to you word…(1 v38)
In that moment she weighs up the consequences of saying ‘yes’ to God – the changes to her dreams, hopes and plans. She realises the stigma attached to being pregnant out of married…she knows the rejection…from her family, her community and most likely Joseph.
In saying yes to God’s will – her life would never be the same again. A baby changes everything!
But unlike our children who come into our world and force us to make sweeping changes…this baby was God incarnate (in-flesh). Can you imagine the responsibility of carrying the child who would be the saviour of the world?
In those first few months of her pregnancy Mary is sent away to assist her elderly relative Elizabeth who is going to have a miraculous baby too – (Jon the Baptist)…there she stays until John ‘s birth and returns home…
Whether it was widely known that she was pregnant before she went away – when she came back there was no denying it, it was obvious for all to see. This baby was changing everything…but despite the rejection of her community, deep down she knew God’s purpose. She had heard and accepted God’s word for her and that was what she needed to sustain her through her difficulties.
How those 9 months must have dragged on…but her faith and trust God that God would keep his word…sustained her. Deep down she meditated on what the angel had said…she knew that this child would be the one through whom God’s mercy and salvation would be provided.
As we reflect on this well-known story, I am challenged by Mary’s humility and commitment. We are all called by God to accept the gift of the son of God…but with this gift comes consequences – changes, the stigma of be different to others, the possibility of rejection by family and friends. Saying yes to the love and mercy of God – has costs attached and some people are not willing to pay the price.
The arrival of the baby Jesus as God incarnate into our world changed everything for all time. No one can be a disciple without first having weighed up the life changing consequences. He is God’s saving gift…But many of us let this gift sit in the corner of the room without unwrapping it.
Marys’ response was YES to God…I am not worthy – but I am willing – her song of praise is a statement of faith that echoes the statement of the character of God and God’s plan of salvation from the Old Testament. God calls us all to accept the gift of the Christ child, the baby who would change the world. In humility and faith, is your response an unequivocal ‘yes’… … something to ponder this Christmas!