Day 20


What if your calling put you at odds with your whole world? What if God’s will for you seemed like a kick in the face of all you had been raised to believe? What If you knew His call would leave you alienated and alone, estranged from your community, friends and even your family, would you still say yes? Yes to God?

“In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.” 

“Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants for ever; his kingdom will never end.”

‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’

The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 

Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’ Then the angel left her.” Luke 1:26-38

Sometimes saying yes to God is saying no to safety, security, and the future we’d always thought we would have.Mary, she held nothing back. And it would cost her. While God forms silently within the safety of Mary’s womb she walks the painful and lonely path of awkward explanations, misunderstanding, potential divorce, scandal and public shame. Alone. With Him. Within.


“This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: his mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.” Matthew 1:18-19

Joseph’s life is also turned upside down, God upending his life to give him life and the calling of being the earthly father of God. 

“But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’

All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).

Matthew 1:20-23

In sheltering God and giving Him his name, Joseph took on the disgrace that would have been Mary’s alone2. And in so doing Joseph grafted the infant God into the tribe of Judah, the house and line of David.

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.” Luke 2:1-5

Together Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem for the census; for the baby King of all the Universe to be born in the birthplace of Kings.

This birthplace that would soon after become the burial ground for the massacre of the innocents, ground zero for the powers of darkness racing to snuff out the light that will overcome them. 

But how can violence and oppression and the murder of babies, how can this be the setting, the backdrop for the coming of the King of the Universe?


But how can violence and oppression and the murder of babies, how can this be the setting, the backdrop for the coming of the King of the Universe?

The ribbons and the tinsel, the holly and the ivy, they weren’t there at the first Christmas and neither was peace on earth. This God chose to be born under the shadow of one of the most violent and oppressive political regimes of all time. He chose to come into History at one of the lowest points of His chosen people’s existence. 

God’s chosen people, the people bearing His promise, had been through wave after wave of heart deadening invasion and were now under the pounding fist of the Roman Empire. They had ‘peace on earth’ in the form of the ‘Pax Romana’3 which is Latin for “Roman Peace”, the centuries long, achingly long, period of time when Rome owned a piece of everywhere else, and Israel was just one slice of their large pie. Small. Insignificant. Consumed. How they longed for peace on earth. Like we do.

When the people of Israel looked up to heaven, there was silence. It seemed. Their temple stood vacant, Echoing. Hollow. Like an absence. Like a silence that felt so loud.

After the Patriarchs, Moses, the Judges, the Kings, the prophets of old, the Maccabees, after all the years of God’s wrestling partnership with Israel, with human beings, then there was a silence. God had been silent for four hundred achingly long years. No prophets, no oracles no messages, no words. Silence. Not the quiet silence of peace. But the desperate silence of waiting. For something. 

It may have felt like abandonment, it may have felt too long for the people of the promise, but it was not an empty silence. It was the calm before a storm, the cosmic storm of God’s boldest battle move yet. God’s great plan of redemption was beginning. Almost unseen. 

In the past He had called brave warrior leaders like Moses, Joshua and Caleb; mighty men like Gideon and Samson and giant-slaying Kings like David. But now in boldness God was about to send His strongest, most powerful, most strategic warrior yet. 

A baby.

God with us.

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” Luke 2:6-7