Before the very first Christmas was even an idea, a young woman named Mary busies herself with wedding plans. Who to invite? What to wear? What to serve? Then, suddenly, God bursts on the scene through the angel Gabriel, His messenger to Mary:
You’re beautiful with God’s beauty,
beautiful inside and out!
God be with you.”
God’s invitation to Mary
She is initially frightened—and who wouldn’t be? She’s greeted and told that God has seen her, that God’s doing something new, and that she, Mary, is invited to be part of this great plan. Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: “You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.”
The messenger invites her to behold God doing a new thing. In its literal translation “behold” means “to hold this in view, sink roots into it, don’t miss it.” We might say it like this: “Mary, don’t miss this; God is doing a new thing, Let it sink in. God has seen you and He is inviting you to be a participant in the good news.”
Rightly so, she has questions and the messenger patiently persists. Then the tide turns. She transitions from “beholding” to “being held.” As radical as the she’s been presented with idea is, she begins to see.
“Yes, I see it all now:
I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve.
Let it be with me
just as you say.”
As Mary beholds the generosity of God towards her and all of mankind, she responds generously and allows herself to be held.
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has looked on the humble estate of His servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is for those who fear Him from generation to generation.”
God’s invitation to us
Is there an invitation from Mary’s generous God for us too?
Would God also invite us to behold Him, to sink roots down into the glorious beauty of Immanuel, God with Us?
What if we stopped to behold the good news of the season and allowed ourselves to be held by the One whom we esteem at Christmas?
“Behold, I bring you good news of great joy.”
In other words, give attention to this: I’m bringing you good news, exceedingly joyful news.
An invitation to stop and see.
An invitation to rest.
An invitation to be held.
Behold and be held, assured that no matter where you are, God is now, God is here. He is Immanuel, God with us.