Three years ago, four minutes past midnight, on Christmas morning, I said yes. Though it was more like “YES! YES! YES! YES!”
In plaid pajama pants and thermal shirts, hanging out in my parents family room, my now husband asked if we could stay up just a little longer…”until Christmas.” He pulled out a box way too long, and way too big for a ring, and told me I could open it at midnight. But just as twelve o’clock came, my sister came down the stairs looking for wrapping paper. Anticipation growing, we waited for her to go back upstairs. Then, four minutes later, when we heard her door close up stairs, my then boyfriend said “open it.”
Opening the box, I found a beautiful card that he had made with a picture of us on it. “One plus One…” it read. Then, he pulled out a much smaller box–a ring-sized box–got down on one knee, and asked me to be his wife. My heart soared, and all I could blurt out was four “YES’s”–because I wanted to make sure he heard me! He kissed me. I looked at the ring on my finger and then at him. We paused to take in the moment…and then woke up everyone in the house!
Christmas/Christmas Eve is a pretty common time for proposals (my dad hid my mom’s ring on the tree). But, an important part of Christmas that we often forget is that it too, began with a “yes.”
Nine months before Jesus was born, we are told that an Angel appeared to a young virgin, Mary, and that he greeted her with these words:
“Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:28)
As any of us would be, Mary was troubled, and so the Angel went on to say:
“Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High…his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:31-33)
Despite not having Sex-Ed in school, Mary knew how babies were made. This, just didn’t add up. So she asked the Angel, “How will this be, since I am still a virgin?” The Angel went on to explain the miracle God was about to bring about, and then finished with the words:
“For no word from God will ever fail.” (v. 37)
Up until this point in Scripture, there are no other stories about Mary, and yet what she is about to say speaks volumes:
“I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” (v.38)
Mary didn’t live in a time where she had a lot of options, or where she was waiting for that one moment when Prince Charming would ask her to be his wife. Instead, her choices had been made for her. She was pledged to be Joseph’s wife (Luke 1:27), but it was her father who made that arrangement. She lived without power, and without choice.
Still, becoming the mother of Jesus was something she said yes to. God did not impregnate Mary and then tell her that she was going to be Jesus’ mother. No, He sent her a heavenly messenger, telling her that she had been chosen to be the mother of His Son. When it comes to following God, He always gives us the choice. She could have responded differently. She could have said “I will be stoned to death if I get pregnant out of wedlock,” or “Joseph will never want me if I am pregnant.” or “Why me?”
Instead she said “May it be to me as you have said.”
She said yes.
Mary said yes to bringing the Son of God into the world. She said yes to the seemingly impossible, believing that with God, nothing is impossible. She said yes to possible alienation–even stoning by her community–believing that God would not forsake her–and that rather, through her, He was coming to save His people.
Because Mary said yes to the plan that God had for her, Jesus came into our world and began His still unfinished work of restoration. Christmas is both a celebration of the work He has done, as well as the work that He has yet to do.
Mary said yes. How may we be called to say yes this Christmas season–not to a ring, but rather to His work in our family, our community, and in our world?
Redefining Female will be taking a break until after the New Year. Wishing you a Blessed Christmas and New Year!