Julie NoelTheme: Love

Julie B. Noel, UMW president

Have you heard? Christmas is coming! Are you ready?

In many cases, the answer to “Are you ready?” is followed by the response: “Ready for what?” One of my favorite Christmas memories is from first grade when, as an angel in the Christmas pageant, my choir mates and I were standing in front of the stage and we were supposed to sing (appropriately enough) “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” I was more interested in what was happening behind me with Mary and Joseph walking across the stage with the animals (which is why I turned around to look – not part of the script for angels in this production). I believed that the angels in our Christmas program had an important, more divine and loving purpose:  they needed to be ready and willing to help Mary and Joseph arrive safely in Bethlehem.

The angel who appeared to Mary over 2,000 years ago was serious about his/her job, too. Imagine Mary’s surprise when an angel appeared to tell her that she was chosen by God to be the virgin mother of Christ Jesus. Was Mary ready? Did she have any idea of how much God loved her? Scripture tells us that Mary loved the Lord, and she put her faith, hope and complete trust in Him and answered her angelic messenger with the confidence of a divinely-inspired prophet many years her senior: “Here am I … let it be with me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). God did not disappoint:  He gifted Mary and Joseph with strength, love and wisdom to prepare for the blessed event that was to come just a short time later.

The greatest gift of all to Mary, Joseph and mankind on Earth – God’s only son, Jesus Christ – was, and still is, the fulfillment of God’s promise of unconditional love for a world seeking hope and peace. God’s love – the love that sustained Mary, Joseph, the angelic heavenly host and Christ Jesus -- prevails and is the hope that sustains our faith, inspires our mission work and transcends humanity’s pain and suffering. 

Christmas is coming, ready or not. Are you ready? God is ready, and it is His love that will calm our hearts, lift our spirits and prepare us for the journey ahead. Happy Advent!

Reflection Questions:

  • There are countless opportunities to be in mission in our local and regional communities during the holiday season. How do you, your family and/or your small group share faith, hope, love and the Good News with others during the Christmas season?
  • Celebrating family Christmas traditions is important to many families. What are some of your favorite family traditions that you like to observe in preparation for Christmas?
  • Christmas is a joyous time of anticipation for some, but for others it can also be accompanied by anxiety and unhappiness. How have you successfully coped with this stressful time of the year?