This has been Christmas Eve. Where I am, it’s been frigid cold, and as I walked outside to experience the silence and stillness, multitudes of stars twinkled and sparkled in the subfreezing night air.
It took no effort to ponder that cold night so long ago… young maiden, heavy with child, charged with bearing, birthing, and nursing this unprepossessing infant… Holy God, King of Kings, Lord of Lords.
My mind cast back to the conception. The terrifying angel’s arrival. Gabriel’s assurances that all was well. His pronouncement that God intended for her to bear His Son. Her perplexed confusion as to how this could come about. My mind was transfixed by a word…
She was to be “overshadowed” by the Holy Spirit, and would conceive and bear a son, and call His name “Jesus”.
The Gospel of Luke tells us:
35 The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; for that reason also the holy Child will be called the Son of God.Luke 1:35 New American Standard Bible
I thought of that moment. The most tender conceivable moment of both love and trust… between this simple young woman, and the Father Creator of All. She loved Him with all her heart, mind, and strength… “behold the handmaiden of the Lord”. So she chose to trust Him even at the potential loss of her life, for her untimely pregnancy could have subjected her to death by stoning.
Perhaps more amazing, Holy God trusting HER, this frail human slip of a thing… to conceive, carry, and raise this Precious Son who had left His Kingship behind Him in heaven to become the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world. What on EARTH could that have been like?
Somehow, in the wonderment of these thoughts as I walked through the crisp night air, a wholly new idea occurred to me.
The Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary. Within her, new life sprang forth as Jesus came to live within her. Her life was forever changed through the encounter.
Wait a minute… In some weird way this question started buzzing in my brain…
Isn’t that what Salvation is?
I mean for everyone?
At some point in our lives, doesn’t the Lord come to us and ask that we receive His Holy Spirit? That Jesus enter into us, and take up His abode in our spirit forevermore? That we be affected by His residence? That we be transformed by His very presence within us? That thereafter we walk as part of “His Body”?
Mary was doubtless the first, and the most intensely such a vessel. Certainly none of us will bear a child in replication of that cold night in Bethlehem.
But I can’t release the thought that in our annual commemoration of His birth at Christmas, there’s a deep and important lesson to all of us. We all take part in Bethlehem every time we see a new believer allow him/herself to be “overshadowed” by the Holy Spirit in salvation and conversion.
Praise God for His ongoing, never ending, creation, redemption and grace!
Merry Christmas, Gentle Reader. The Greatest Gift we’ve ever received, or have yet to receive, is that brief, tender moment of a trusting “Yes” when we allow His love to overshadow our souls!
Hallelujah! Merry Christmas!
Grace to you and yours, always!