Capturing the beauty of Christmas in two words—God's favor.
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It is so good to gather on this special Christmas morning and welcome our Lord Jesus Christ into the world to celebrate his birth together. With so many things on our minds today I think it's wise to draw your attention to just one word: favor. It's written all over the Christmas story. What a beautiful word it is. Its sound reflects its beauty. Favor. We're going to hear that word on the lips of angels, on the lips of Mary, and on the lips of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Let me paint a scene for you. A young woman is sitting in her house. She is in an obscure town called Nazareth, and her family is poor. It is a forgotten place whose citizens are folks that couldn't find an opportunity to leave. In those days people said, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" This young woman's name is Mary.
Then one day God sent the angel Gabriel to her. The angel said to her, "Greetings, Mary, you who are highly favored. The Lord is with you." In response to this, Mary was "troubled." She wondered what kind of greeting this might be. So the angel spoke to her a second time. "Do not be afraid, Mary," Gabriel said. "You have found favor with God."
I looked up the word "favor" in my dictionary and found quite a long list of definitions and descriptions, but one stood out to me: Favor is kindness beyond what is due or usual. Isn't that beautiful? I think that's the meaning from this text as well. The angel is saying, "God is going to show you kindness beyond what is due and kindness beyond what is usual." The angel goes on to explain this unusual kindness that God will show to Mary. "You will be with child and you will give birth to a son and you are to give him the name Jesus, and he will be great and he will ...
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Colin Smith is pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois.