Reflecting on this week and the story we’ve just read, it struck me that I have been thinking about two Mary’s who were ready.
In the text, we read about Mary, the mother of Jesus, as she traveled with her husband, Joseph, from their current home, Nazareth, to Joseph’s ancestral home, Bethlehem, because he was descended from David.
We don’t know how long that they were there, but it has always been assumed that Mary was very pregnant when she traveled to Bethlehem.
In this past year, we’ve had the privilege of several children being born within our congregation.
Always, in that last month or two of pregnancy, people will ask, “How are you doing?”
Somewhere in the answer, will be the words, “I’m ready. I’m ready for this baby. I’m ready to be done.”
The preparation, the physical fatigue, and the anticipation, all together combined lead to this readiness—ready to be done, ready for the next steps. Ready.
I have no reason to doubt that Mary, like any other expectant mother near the end of pregnancy, was any different.
I am guessing that she was ready.
Questions that we ask, that we don’t get the answers for in Scripture. Was Mary anxious about traveling so late in her pregnancy?
Knowing how mothers often want everything lined up before the baby comes, were there sleepless nights and tense conversations with Joseph about where they were going to stay and what would happen if the baby would come. I am guessing she worried about when the baby would come and the painful work of the delivery. She was a first time mother. She’d never experienced this before. How would it go?
The angel said that she’d deliver a son whom they were to name Jesus and that he would do great things. The angel didn’t tell them the day when the contractions would start or give them the name of a good obstetrician or midwife to help deliver the child.
We could say Mary was eager to meet this child, but was she prepared for the journey that it would take to meet him? She had been told about how special this child would be, but was she ready for what he would really do?
Then I think about another Mary.
Quite of few of you knew of Mary Grooters, but not a lot of you met her. This was simply because she came to be a member here later in life. She had moved from Sanborn where she had spent most of her life. Due to health issues, wasn’t able to attend services much.
In my own mind, impatience with someone or something comes when I am focused on my way, on what I want, and how I want it.
In the past two years as her health declined, she longed for the day for her earthly journey to be completed.
If I’m impatient for something, for example, to be off of hold on the telephone, or impatient at how slow people are at an intersection or traffic light, or when the restaurant takes too much time to deliver my food
She would say that she was ready. She was ready to meet her Lord. She was ready to be finished with not feeling well.
Yet, it’s hard to be completely ready. As others have shared with me, death and eternity is not what troubles people, it is how we get there—the process of dying—that frightens people. We don’t want to suffer. We don’t want pain.
Are we ready?
We don’t know, but what if this is the last Christmas that we celebrate on this earth? Maybe Jesus comes in 2018. Maybe the Lord calls us home in 2018.
Are we ready?
We can prepare and we should be preparing everyday for that possibility. Jesus says as much in the gospels. We are to be awake, ready to go.
Be ready, but expect that it will be much different than what you are planning.
For Mary, the mother of Jesus, she probably had no idea that the first baby crib for her son would be a manger, a feed bunk for animals.
She had no idea that there would be shepherds barging right after she had delivered her child, chattering excitedly about the sky filled with angels.
She had no idea about the life that her infant son would would live and ultimately the work that he would accomplish.
This evening, as we remember that Jesus is the complete fulfillment of many characters in the Bible—Adam, Noah, David. As we reflect on what it means that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and our Savior, we can be ready. We can, as the song goes, “Let every heart, prepare him room...”
We can prepare, but I’m sure that there will be surprises.
As for Mary Grooters and anyone else who has gone on before us in faith, they were ready, but I am sure that they were joyfully surprised that the good of heaven and the joy of being in the presence of God is far better than anything they had prepared themselves for before.
This evening, let’s encourage each other to be ready, to prepare our hearts for the Savior.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come...Let heaven and nature sing.