The entire Christmas story is about Interruptions… and how people responded to these God gifts of interruption.
Think about the interruptions you’ve had in your life in 2020. There have probably been a lot of them!
Make a list.
How can these be seen as GIFTS rather than just frustrations and pains? Read Luke 1:26-38 and consider the gift of interruption Mary received.
LUKE 1: 26-38 THE MESSAGE
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary.
Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her:
Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you. She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that. But the angel assured her, “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.
He will be great, be called ‘Son of the Highest. ’ The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David; He will rule Jacob’s house forever— no end, ever, to his kingdom.”
Mary said to the angel, “But how? I’ve never slept with a man.”
The angel answered,
The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Highest hover over you; Therefore, the child you bring to birth will be called Holy, Son of God.
“And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren, and here she is six months pregnant! Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.”
And Mary said,
Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say.
Then the angel left her.
How did Mary’s life change after she had the encounter with the angel, her gift of interruption?
What if Mary hadn’t said yes? She was willing to have her whole life disrupted by God. How about you?
Are you willing to receive the gift of interruption? Are you wiling to allow God to interrupt your plans, your ways, your hopes? And even your dreams? Are you willing to allow God to interrupt you?
Are we willing to be willing? Talk to Jesus about how you view interruptions.
Consider how God has interrupted you this past year? How has this changed/affected your life?
Read the rest of Luke 1 and the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth. How were their lives interrupted? How was this a gift to each of them?
What have been the gifts you’ve received from the interruptions of 2020? Talk to Jesus about these interruptions.
At the end of Luke 1, after the Angel’s Interruption, Mary goes to see Elizabeth for comfort and understanding. Who has helped you during this crazy season of Covid-19? Who are the people who have been your gifts in 2020? Spend some time thanking Jesus for them. Take time to send them a note or make a phone call to thank them!
Find a Christmas Bow or a gift box to use as a reminder to be grateful for the interruptions. Place the Bow or the Gift Box where you can see it on a regular basis as a reminder that God is with you in the interruptions! And that God is still at work even in these unlikely gifts!
More ways to RECEIVE THE GIFT this ADVENT.
Take time to receive Advent, make time to receive these days before Christmas a gift… you might put a gift box or wrapped present in the center of your dining room table or on your coffee table or a small gift box on your desk to remind you that these days before Christmas are gift to be enjoyed and treasured. Use that gift as a symbol of this gift of Advent and as a representation of your willingness to receive the gift of interruption this year and the gift of Jesus.
Set aside a specific time each day to thank God for the gifts God has given you in that day. You could set your phone alarm with a reminder “today is a gift remember to receive it!” You can text your friends and family with that message too.
Each person in the Christmas story received the gift of Jesus in a different way… as a community or family prayer exercise you can write down and/or run off the names of people from the nativity story (everyone from Mary and Joseph, their parents, the shepherds and innkeeper and guests, to the Magi , Zechariah and Elizabeth and even King Herod). Write or copy these names on small pieces of paper and fold them in half. Place these names in a Nativity Scene, or better yet an Empty Stable for a Manger Scene. Ask each person in your group to take a name and carry it with them during this season of Advent, between now and Christmas. Allow God to show them how this person received the gift of Jesus. Ask God to show you how this person changed as a result of this gift of interruption, and allow God to open your life/heart to change and growth as you receive the gift of Jesus too.