9 months til Christmas!
I know, I know, you're thinking that we're in Lent - we're going to celebrate Easter in a few weeks, why are you talking about Christmas? Because today is 9 months before Dec 25th - traditionally the day celebrating the Annunciation of the angel Gabriel telling Mary she would conceive as a virgin the Son of the Most High!
Whoa - I cannot even fathom this!
9 months - that's a lot of waiting! And a lot happened in those 9 months - imagine Mary telling her parents that an angel came to her and told her she'd carry God's son. Probably a 6 month trip to visit her cousin Elizabeth was a good idea - to get her away from the supercilious smiles and gossip. How did she endure in faith while also dealing with the scandal of her pregnancy? I admit at Christmas, I don't often ponder her 9 month ordeal!
Furthermore, her betrothed wanted a quiet divorce - and it's likely a few in Nazareth probably suggested stoning her for her supposed improprieties. In these 9 months, Joseph also has a dream - and also follows in faith - coming to accept and care for Mary and the baby. How many thought him a fool?
I am astonished at Mary's faith and perseverance to say "yes" to God - yes to this "way outside of the box" assignment - how could it be?
So often Christmas "sneaks up on us" - for Mary, it was 9 months of waiting and pondering and moving ahead despite the obstacles that stood before her.
God's invitation to Mary is so radical, amazingly scandalous, and required great faith. Sometimes I long for a similar faith - and yet I wince at the "cost" of following when it seems so outside of the box.
May we be like Mary today regarding any of our challenging circumstances or waiting on the Lord: