Sunday, December 25, 2016
Christmas 2016 Bishop of Down & Dromore
At the very heart of the Christmas story lie the words of Mary when she powerfully says: ‘Be it unto me according to your word.’
Here we have the most important interaction ever between God and a human being.
It’s interesting that God doesn’t actually ask Mary to agree to be the mother of the Saviour.
He tells her what he is planning to do through her life: ‘You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus…the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.’
This month, one of the most famous missionaries of the twentieth century, Helen Roseveare, died. Her testimony was that ‘Christ conquered her’, and she gave a life of service to him, especially in the Congo, where she suffered brutally for the faith.
Mary, when she says ‘Yes’ to God’s will, is conquered by the coming Christ. In reality there is no other possible answer when God becomes so real and speaks so powerfully, and when you know his will and purpose for your life. That is my story too.
This has been a year when it has looked as though all sorts of other forces are conquering us: cruelty, bitterness, division, dishonesty to name but a few. Jesus was born in days like these, and the world is transformed by one young woman simply allying her will with God’s will.
Out of that moment, the Christ who brings love, unity, peace and hope appears. It’s still like that today. Just dare to say ‘Yes’ to God this Christmas, whatever the cost, and see the difference it makes!