The day before Jesus was born was not a fun day in Bethlehem. The town was overcrowded. People were there for a mandatory census. The Jews had been oppressed by the Romans for a long time, and no prophet had spoken words from God in centuries.
God had already heard the prayers of people who had been crying out to him for so long. God had already devised a plan. God had already put events in motion that would bring peace and redemption. God was already there. Help was already on its way.
Mary was so confident that God would keep his word that half of the Magnificat in Luke 1 is in past tense, even though the events she’s talking about haven’t happened yet, because she had so much faith, if God said he would do it, it was as good as done!
I know this Christmas is not easy for so many people. For lots of you, even if your whole heart isn’t aching, a little piece of it is. There’s longing for the loved one who died, the pregnancy that ended in miscarriage, the prodigal child, the deployed spouse, the broken marriage, the lost job, the prayer you’ve been praying for such a long time that seems to go unanswered.
Christmas, for lots of us, is like the day before Jesus was born in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago. It’s hard, and there seems to be no hope in sight.
And yet, if we have faith, we can speak the promises of God like Mary did — in past tense, as though they’ve already happened. Because what God says he will do, he does. He always does.
So take heart, my weary friends. God has heard each prayer you have prayed. God has caught each tear you have cried. You have not walked a single step of this long journey alone.
The Incarnation reassures us that God was here 2,000 years ago.
God is here now.
And God will continue to be here with you all the days of your life.