Available at Christmas?
According to Luke's gospel, two thousand years ago the angel Gabriel appeared to a virgin named Mary and told her that she was highly favored by God. In addition, the angel told her that she would conceive and bear a child who would be the long awaited Messiah and Savior. The account relates that Mary was understandably troubled by this announcement and questioned how such a thing could be possible. After Gabriel reminded her that nothing is impossible with God, her reply is quite remarkable, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." After seeing an angel and then being told some amazing news, she responded by saying as God's servant she wanted His will for her life.
While many aspects of this story impress me, I am most struck by the fact that Mary looked beyond her personal circumstances and accepted God's calling. She obviously knew she would face difficult questions from her family. She also surely understood that this news could possibly end her engagement to Joseph. Her culture would most certainly shun her. And yet, because of a strong faith in God, she embraced the future set before her by Jehovah. This incident says much about Mary's heart, obedience, and faith. Often overlooked, however, is the fact that despite everything, Mary possessed the quality of being available.
Availability. Isn't that what Christmas is all about? The Lord Jesus Christ left a perfect existence and chose to live among filthy humans. With a love that none of us can comprehend, he gave himself to serve mankind. He decided to demean himself into human form. He was willing to teach those who often lacked understanding. He lived in poverty and freely associated with the most lowly and despised of society. And, most paramount, he was available to be tortured and die a slow, painful death and take upon himself the sins of the world.
The most distinct aspect of "being available" is that it is voluntary. Think of how many people in scripture did amazing things for God because they were willing to be available regardless of the consequences. Noah built a massive ship for years. Abraham left his comfortable home. Isaac laid upon an altar staring up at his father who was about to sacrifice him. David faced ferocious and terrifying giant. When God asked who would be available to preach judgement to His people, the prophet Isaiah said, "Here I am, send me."
Contemplating Christmas and the mid-point of our school year, I am exceedingly grateful for so many examples of availability around me. I appreciate the availability of our school board, who make hard decisions and selflessly give so much time to CCS. I think of our teachers, staff, and coaches who daily serve CCS students when they could easily be elsewhere. This past fall, the auction committee, the PTF, and the Booster club willingly put in untold hours for the sake of our school. In early January, some of our seniors will go to Haiti. Eighth graders will to South Texas Children's Home. I am so proud of these students who are putting aside their fears and comforts to be available to help those in poverty by going on our annual mission trips.
As a follower of Christ, how available are you? What are your thoughts focused upon this Christmas? Are you willing to be there for those in your family, church, or even in your community? Is there a willingness to be there for those with whom you are uncomfortable or may even despise? What example are setting for your children about availability?
Can I confess something? God often convicts me that I'm not as available as I should be to just even listen and give my time to others.
Perhaps the holidays are very stressful for you, but are you at least available for others in their various areas of need? Some would say they don't have time or they are afraid or they don't know how to be available to friends, family, or even strangers. My answer to them comes from a mentor of mine who once said to me, God isn't nearly interested in your ability as He is your availability.
This Christmas, what does God expect of us? He doesn't expect perfection, nor great skill. He just expects to follow the example of Mary. Remember what she said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."
Just BE AVAILABLE. You might be surprised how will use you in the life of a needy someone.
Let conclude with my favorite Christmas story from in the Bible. It isn't found in any of the Gospels, but rather in Philippians, chapter 2:
"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."
All of us here at Covenant Christian School want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas. You and your family are such a blessing to us each and every day. We love you!
Dr. Glenn Slater, Head Administrator