When I was a kid, my parents helped me and my sisters set out cookies and milk for Santa. Every year before we went to church on Christmas Eve, we’d put them on the front hearth of the fireplace with a note saying “For Santa.”
Amazingly, we’d come home from church and see only some cookie crumbs and a third glass of milk. Santa was in such a hurry to deliver all those presents, he must not have had time to finish it all!
My childish heart was glad that I could do something for the jolly giver who helped to make my Christmas so exciting each year.
Two miraculous births
Did you know that about the same time that the virgin Mary became pregnant by a miracle of God, another woman named Elizabeth also became miraculously pregnant? An angel visited her husband, Zechariah, with the news.
Very similar to the angel’s visit to Mary, Zechariah was startled. He wasn’t expecting God to break through the natural patterns of this planet with a miracle. He and Elizabeth weren’t able to have kids, and were now way too old to have kids.
So when the angel told Zechariah, “Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son,” he asked, “How can this be? I am an old man” (Luke 1:13,18).
Similarly, when the angel told Mary, “You will conceive and give birth to a son,” Mary asked, “How will this be, since I am a virgin” (Luke 1:31,34).
The Bible reveals what is going on in the hearts of Zechariah and Mary, as they both question the angel but with different motives.
Zechariah “did not believe” (Luke 1:20) the angel’s announcement. Mary, on the other hand, continued, “May your word to me be fulfilled” (Luke 1:38).
One gift for the Giver
So what does God want for Christmas? What is the one thing that God would love to have, and you get the opportunity to give it to him?
Faith. Instead of questioning if God “can” do what he says, like Zechariah, you can process God’s promises, like Mary, while believing God “will” do what he says.
Sometimes faith just leaps off the cliff and trusts that God is a good catcher. Sometimes faith asks honest questions—not arguing, not disagreeing, not knowing better—just wondering in amazement what God is up to. It agrees that what God says is always true, this his word is always “fulfilled” even when it seems impossible.
How, then, can you have more faith? This is very important. Focus less on your trusting and more on God’s words of promise. Like the solution for solving your hunger is not focusing on your hunger, but not a good meal.
Pay attention this Christmas. Listen. Observe. Take in all of what God offers at the birth of Jesus Christ. And believe what God can do in your heart, your home, and our world.
PRAYER: Dear God of Christmas, thank you for the gift of your Son Jesus. I’d like to give you a gift, too. I give you my faith. I believe your saving words and works are true. I trust what you are doing in my life. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: Read Luke 1:5-38. Notice the two different responses—Zechariah and Mary. God’s concern and care for Zechariah shapes some discipline for this man, to nurture a faith that he didn’t yet have. Notice how it works!