This month we will be sharing a collection of short readings by Northeastern Seminary alumni as they reflect on and rejoice in the gifts of God's grace and the signs of Christ present during this Advent Season. Today's guest post was written by Tami Thurber.
Here in the Northeast Advent occurs at the beginning of a gray, frigid winter season. The landscape looks lifeless, and sometimes that is how we feel because, unfortunately, we all face winter times in our lives. Perhaps you are there now. Life-changing decisions loom in front of you, but you dread acting because the strength required is more than the strength you have. Perhaps your winter stems from an ongoing but cold, colorless faith. Maybe your winter has self-absorption blanketing your relationship with God as snow covers all reminders of life. Whatever your winter looks like, your response to it can be shaped by the responses of those who experienced the first nativity.
After Gabriel gave Mary the news of her upcoming pregnancy, Mary responded with honest humility. Although unsure of her own well-being or the baby’s future, Mary did not allow herself to be overwhelmed with questions, doubts, or even worry. “I am the Lord’s servant,” she affirmed (Luke 1:38). Soon afterward, Gabriel informed Joseph that he should still marry his fiancé because she had done nothing immoral. What was his first response? Humble, immediate obedience (Matthew 1:24). Although both Mary and Joseph would be faced with many difficult winter months ahead, their humble acceptance of the circumstances and reliance on God’s strength girded them for what was to come.
As the Advent story continues, we see others whose first response was vastly different than Mary and Joseph’s. Rather than sober obedience, these people’s emotions were on fire. John the Baptist, still in his mother’s womb, leaped for joy when he first encountered the unborn Jesus (Luke 1:45). Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit who led her to boisterously bless this baby (Luke 1:41). Even the educated Magi dropped to their knees in worship of this Christ child (Matthew 2:11).
Others, including Simeon, Anna, and the people who heard the shepherd’s report, responded by turning their eyes from the scene in front of them to focus on the God who organized this whole event (Luke 2:28-32, 2:38, 2:18). Praise and thanksgiving freely flowed to the God who planned and executed this joyous birth.
During this season there are so many ways we too can respond to Jesus’ birth. Perhaps there is something in your life that you are sure God is calling you to do or think. Take courage with Mary and Joseph as you step out in humble, submissive obedience. Perhaps your faith has settled into a cold winter routine. Use this season to reignite your passion into a blazing fire like John and Elizabeth’s. Or maybe you have become so focused on yourself—your harried schedule, your hurts, your troubles—that you need to use some precious Advent time to meditate not on what you need but on who God is. We have been given this gift of an Advent season at the beginning of some long winter months. May we respond to this gift not with exhausted survival but by mirroring those who first experienced this miraculous event.
Tami Thurber, M.A. ‘09, co-author Handing It Down: Teaching Your Children the Basic Truths of Faith; jr./sr. high English and Bible teacher at Oneonta Community Christian School; adjunct professor at Davis College, Johnson City, N.Y.; wife and mom in Oneonta, N.Y.