You might not know this about me, but I love Christmas time. The whole season fills me excitement and happiness. As an example of my Christmas loving spirit, my wife and I cannot usually wait until December to start listening to Christmas music. In our house this year, we were jamming to some good Christmas tunes back around Halloween time (Yes we are one of those families).
Christmas time is also the time of the year that we bust out all these different sayings and greetings. We say things like, “Seasons greetings,” “Tis the season to be jolly,” “Peace on earth” or “Bah humbug” (That one for all you individuals that don’t like Christmas). Then there is a phrase I hear all the time around Christmas: “Giving is better than receiving.”
I agree with this statement, but at the same time, what if we have got it wrong? In Luke 1:46-56, we find a passage that is a song or poem that Mary gives as praise to the Lord. What caused Mary to sing this song? Her song of praise comes right after her meeting with Elizabeth who says a blessing over her for being the mother of the Lord. Perhaps this was the inspiration of her song or it could have been a reflection on everything that had happened to her up until that point.
Mary’s outlook on her situation has always been amazing to me. It is easy to read the Christmas story and picture Mary as this happy mother-to-be that is enjoying her pregnancy. What we quickly forget is how she was probably looked down upon by those in her village. She was the girl who couldn’t wait for the wedding night and got pregnant. We also, never hear anything about Mary’s parents. Did they believe Mary or perhaps they were disappointed in her like the rest of her village. I have always imagined that perhaps these things were the reasons Mary went to visit Elizabeth. She wanted a break from all the stress and tension of her home and village.
It is with this background that we can being to understand Mary’s song a little better. She is singing a song of Joy because of what God is doing and has done in her already. She is singing because of what she has received from God.
The season of Advent is a season of preparation. It is a season where we prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus into the world. Christmas and Advent are not about gifts under a tree or a red suited man breaking into your house and steals our cookies, though those are fun things that we’ve made part of our Christmas season. Christmas and Advent are about the joy we receive as Jesus comes into our world and into our own lives. When we begin to focus on this, there is an undeniable joy that comes with Jesus’ presence in our lives. It is this same joy that lead Mary to sing her song of praise. It is this same joy that caused Elizabeth’s baby to jump for joy in her womb as Mary greeted Elizabeth. It is this joy that can transform our lives and calls us to tell others about this joy and invite them into the Advent season of Jesus’ transforming presence.
The giving of the knowledge of Jesus’ love and joy to others is an amazing experience but nothing can beat receiving Jesus’ grace and forgiveness into our own life’s. With all the gifts you buy this year, giving might be better than receiving, but Jesus came with the first of his unending joy and made receiving better than then giving.
What do you think about this idea? Share your comments below and never forget to share this with people you know and get the conversation going.