This Sunday we will begin our journey to Bethlehem. I, for one, am excited that we can share this journey together. I am glad you will be seeing the sights, smelling the smells, hearing the sounds and learning the history of the most amazing series of events in the history of the world.
This week will be all about Mary of Nazareth (that's where our journey begins). In a sense Nazareth should feel like home for many reading this post. We live in Abbeville (or somewhere near this little town of 3,000 people). Nazareth, like Abbeville, was a little town near a much larger and more affluent city named Sepphoris. Sepphoris, a town of 30,000 people, was an affluent place fit for the origin of a king. It had culture, shopping and social life. People would have gone there to shop. They, not Nazareth, would have had the Walmart, the mall and the Carmike 12 showing the latest Christmas blockbusters (ok, I did take a little cultural license with that one). You get the point ... Nazareth was where people traveled from to go somewhere else ... Sepphoris was a destination. We get a little taste of what people thought about Nazareth when, in John :46, Nathaniel asks "can anything good come from Nazareth?" What we know is that something very good came from Nazareth!
Nazareth was Mary's hometown. Nazareth was where Mary is told of her coming child and she utters those amazing words "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word (Luke 1:38 NRSV)." Those words have always reminded me of Jesus' words in the garden of Gethsemane "Not my will but thine." Nazareth is where a little boy named Jesus grew up, halfway between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean Sea. And Nazareth was the place where Jesus is conceived when God's Spirit overshadows Mary and God (the divine, perfect, holy being that has existed in history as a being made of light, life. purity and omniscience) does something amazing ... He shows His transcendence as He travels from eternity into time and into a virgins womb. And it all starts in a little town called Nazareth.
Maybe for the world, Nazareth was a place that was obscure, unimportant and insignificant. But for people (all people whether they know God or they are oblivious to God) it is a place that "Good tidings for all people" began. We, who live in Abbeville, can be reminded that making a difference isn't about the size of the town we are from. It isn't about whether we have a reputation for greatness or a social status that makes us "upper crust." It is about being good, hard working people like Mary's family probably were. It is about telling God "Here am I ... let it be as you have willed." Mary's story is one of greatness. Her obedience changed everything, including the entire history of the world. A 13-year old teenager makes a decision that gives me hope and strength ... it has empowered and altered our nation ... and that power to change is planted in the hearts of every Christian in Abbeville, Alabama. We may not have a Walmart ... but we've got Jesus! Randy