When Christmas is for the Broken
Christmas caught up to me.
If I had convinced myself that I have things put together, the last few weeks have helped in dashing such notions. I’m behind on everything, and there’s not much hope for change in the near future.
We bought a tree. It has no decorations on it. Rather, it’s a brittle twig in the corner. I forget to water it, and my cat drinks all its water each day. (Yes, he has his own water bowl. Apparently, he needs flavored water.)
My house has been incredibly dirty for longer than I would like to announce to the internet. I don’t mean in the way that people apologize for a few things on their couch. Don’t eat off my floors; it’s probably not safe.
Oh, and family is coming over in the morning.
It’s been a challenging few weeks, with some rollercoaster days. My sin struggles have been before my eyes as my attitude turned self-ward and bitter.
I had some school deadlines that felt like pulling teeth. I almost quit, full-on throw in the towel on my program.
I have not done enough. I have not handled it all. Some days I may be barely passing at life if we’re grading on a curve. Christmas snuck up on me.
But, in Christmas, God has seen the broken.
The Joy of the Broken
That’s what Mary says, anyway, and it’s good news for my heart. She says that God has looked upon those of humble estate. Now when she says this, she doesn’t mean those who have fought the pride in their hearts, though that is something we should mercilessly do. She means the broken.
She means those who have little to offer and know it. She means those who are desperate for help, the lowly. She sees it in herself as she recognizes what God is about to do with her.
When Mary responds to her womb holding the Savior, she sings the Magnificat.
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
For he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.” Luke 1:46-49
Mary recognizes the lowliness of her status. A poor teenage girl of insignificance in the eyes of the world. A woman who is only a servant before the living God. She knows that though all generations will call her blessed, it is for nothing that she has earned. Becoming the mother to Hope himself was purely the grace of God. Her response is not to think of herself and her accomplishments, but to praise God. He has done great things for her.
So it is with us, friends. God has done great things for us. Not because of anything we have done today, this month, or ever. Christmas is God himself entering into his creation to bring grace to his people—of humble estate. His broken people who have little to offer.
I have much more materially than Mary. I have much more social power than she did. Thus, it is good for me to admit, I am not in the same poverty. But in my privilege, I still boast in my humiliation. (James 1:10) I come to Christmas with my accomplishment boxes unchecked and nothing to boost me before God.
God’s Work for those on the Bottom
Mary continues her song,
“And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.” Luke 1:50-53
Mary knows her Scriptures. She knows how God has worked over the centuries. He’s the God who chose Abram, the wandering pagan, and David, the smallest brother. God acts, and when those with little to offer look to him for help, he sees them.
Mary’s song foreshadows the teachings that would come from her son’s mouth. Our God is one who wants to give to those who ask of him. (Luke 11:5-13) He is one who will bless the hungry and feed the starving. (Luke 6:21, Luke 9:10-17) He sees our great need and answers not those who feel they have enough but the broken, those on the bottom.
The Blessing for Us
You and I are most likely not the ones on the bottom socially, financially, globally. But we are those on the bottom when we recognize our desperate estate, our humble estate. We cannot handle this life. We cannot handle the stress. We cannot create perfection. We cannot deal with our own sin.
In this place of helplessness, God entered.
Mary finishes her song with the best of the news.
“He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” (Luke 1:54-55)
God promised Abraham that he would bless all the families of the earth through him, and so he did by the baby in Mary’s womb. Here is the greatest blessing for the broken-- A son was given for our hope.
So, friends, as Christmas catches us off-guard, let’s embrace our desperate need.
See our mess, our joblessness, or our failings. Eye our lack of status, reputation, and put-togetherness. Then, thank God that he has seen us in our humble estate.