When Elizabeth was six months pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a city in Galilee, to a virgin who was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David’s house. The virgin’s name was Mary. When the angel came to her, he said, “Rejoice, favored one! The Lord is with you!” She was confused by these words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. God is honoring you. Look! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and he will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father. He will rule over Jacob’s house forever, and there will be no end to his kingdom.”
Then Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen since I haven’t had sexual relations with a man?”
The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come over you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the one who is to be born will be holy. He will be called God’s Son. Look, even in her old age, your relative Elizabeth has conceived a son. This woman who was labeled ‘unable to conceive’ is now six months pregnant. Nothing is impossible for God.”
Then Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be with me just as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
“Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to. Don’t you see? It’s not just Kris that’s on trial, it’s everything he stands for. It’s kindness and joy and love and all the other intangibles.” — Doris Walker
In Miracle on 34th Street, Doris Walker goes from skeptic to believer in the course of one full-length movie. With Kris Kringle on trial, she reminds us that “Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.”
Christmas demands a lot of us. It’s not just the present-buying and cookie-making that push us to our limits; it’s also the believing. We are asked to believe that the almighty Lord of the universe came into the world as a howling infant in a feed trough. We are asked to believe that a young Galilean woman, a girl really, is overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and conceives a son. We are asked to believe that Love is greater than all the evil in the world and even greater than the pettiness in our own hearts. Hard as it is, we strive to believe. We stake our lives on that astonished young woman, on that howling baby, on Love.
Holy infant, almighty Lord of the universe, give us the faith to believe. Give us the faith to welcome you in the Christ child. Give us the faith of Mary who looked at what seemed impossible and said, “Let it be according to your will.” Give us that faith. Amen.