When my sister and I were deciding where to spend the Sunday morning before Christmas, she suggested Grace Community Church in Goshen. I said as long as there were lights and Christmas music, I'd be happy.
I was not disappointed. The main sanctuary was beautifully decorated for the season. And even though the music was worshipful and engaging, the message is what hit home.
The speaker admonished us not to take the miracle of the season for granted, and took us into the perspective of Mary, a young peasant girl in a small town with simple expectations from life: marry, have a family, keep a household. Then an angel comes a-knockin'. Imagine the mixture of excitement, wonder, and trepidation upon seeing an angel, hearing that she was favored by God, and that she would be pregnant... by the Holy Spirit.
Of course God chose the best mom for Jesus. Of course she was spiritually strong and faithful. Yet, she was still human. Imagine Mary trying to explain the situation to her fiance. Or her parents. Or even her best friend. Would anyone believe her? Did she seek out her cousin Elizabeth for the moral support, or because no one else would understand?
Yet amid this incredibly confusing, awkward, and lonely time, Mary found joy. She said "...my spirit rejoices in God my Savior" (Luke 1:47). She could see the big picture of God's promise of a Savior and a Messiah being fulfilled, and was humbled by her part in it.
Maybe part of finding joy is seeing the bigger picture. Knowing that any kind word or deed that I can offer can make a difference, no matter how seemingly small. Knowing that I am a child of the King, the God of the universe and heavens. He loved Mary, even when others may have shamed or abandoned her. He loves me, and would have sent Jesus to Earth, if I were its only inhabitant. Awesome!