This past Sunday at our home Saddleback Church where Dr. Rick Warren, author of “Purpose Driven Life” and “Purpose Driven Church” is Senior Pastor, associate pastor Buddy Owens shared what he later called his wishing us a “Very Mary Christmas!” No, I didn’t spell “Merry” the wrong way. His point was that we all have something in common with Mary, the mother of Jesus.
When the angel came to announce that she would become the mother of the Son of God, he greeted her by saying that she was “highly favored.”1 This is the first time that this word is used in the New Testament. The only other time it is employed is where the Apostle Paul tells the Ephesians that because we have been adopted as sons and daughters of God through Jesus Christ the son that Mary gave birth to, we too are “highly favored.” While this does not appear in many English translations, in the original Greek the verb charitoō is used on both places. One of its meanings is “to pursue with grace.”
But that’s not all, when Mary asked how such a thing was possible since she was still an unmarried virgin, the anger told her that the “Holy Spirit would come upon her.”2 So not only was Mary chosen by God’s grace, but the miracle of Christ being conceived in her would be by way of the power of the Holy Spirit. Now, we too, just like the Apostles, were pursued by God’s grace, and they also were told that with Christ indwelling them, that the Holy Spirit would come upon them so they could be His witnesses to the world.3
Because of what God did for Mary by His grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary sang one of the most beautiful songs in the Scriptures.4 Here is the way her song might be sung today:
I’m bursting with God-news;
I’m dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave
on those who are in awe before Him.
He bared his arm and showed His strength,
scattered the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced His chosen child, Israel;
he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It’s exactly what He promised,
beginning with Abraham and right up to now.5
Perhaps at this Christmas season, Mary’s song can become our song as well. So along with Pastor Buddy Owens, we wish you a very “Mary Christmas.” – Dr. Robert R Seyda
1 Luke 1:28 – New King James Version
2 Ibid. 1:35
3 Acts of the Apostles 1:8
4 Luke 1:46-55
5 Luke 1:46-55 – The Message