Even as Christians we can easily become caught up in the busy swirl of the season. But this year may we slow down to celebrate the ordinary.
Many lesser things allure us: $700,000,000 signing contracts, massive stadiums and empires, luxury this, and luxury that. As the spotlight shifts from one elaborate story to another, we might extend our applause here or there. Whether intentional or not, we are tempted to ignore, or even scoff at, the ordinary.
How often do we applaud the mother sacrificially caring for her children? Do we acknowledge the father who consistently wakes up each morning and works to provide for his family/ What about the quiet caregiver who lovingly supports and provides for the infirm or vulnerable? These and many others may not rank high in the list of those worthy of celebrating. However, in God’s record book I think they do.
As we take a brief look at the Christmas story, we quickly discover those whom God celebrates. May it inspire us to also celebrate the ordinary.
An Ordinary Woman
Mary, by all appearances, led an unassuming life of quiet obedience to God. She was just one among many young virgin women, awaiting their wedding day. Engaged to a handsome and righteous young man, she anticipated the time when they would soon consummate their marriage, set up their own home, and begin a family together.
Her life portrayed a vibrant example of how to celebrate the ordinary, like generations of women before her. Until the day when everything changed!
The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you!”
The angel explained how God had chosen her to become the mother of the awaited Messiah — the King who would rule and reign forever. Questions flooded her mind.
“‘How will this be; Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?'”
The angel reminded Mary that “no word from God will ever fail” (Luke 1:37).
Until now, Mary appeared completely ordinary. But, we see the extraordinary character and godly integrity of this young woman as she gives God her complete, “Yes!” And with that she laid her reputation, and quite possibly her future marriage, on the line. She risked losing everything, choosing to celebrate the ordinary so we could one day receive Jesus as Savior.
No Ordinary Baby
Mary, through the Holy Spirit, conceived no ordinary Baby. This Baby — fully God and yet fully man — would save people from their sins.
“So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”
Jesus gave up the splendor of Heaven to be wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger. He set aside all His power and authority to become robed in frail humanity.
“Rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!”
Jesus willingly chose the suffering of human life for our good, not His. He came as no ordinary baby to cancel a debt which we owed but could never pay.
Too often, we end our remembrance of the first Christmas here. And when we do, we miss the opportunity to celebrate the ordinary in another key figure involved.
An Ordinary Man
Joseph, like any ordinary man, busied himself in preparation for his future bride and family. The day was fast approaching when he and Mary would finally become man and wife. As a typical young couple, they held great hope and anticipation for their future together.
The news of Mary’s pregnancy shattered all that! How could Mary betray him? And in the worst possible way? He considered every option. But because he was righteous, he decided to quietly divorce her. Until an angel spoke to him through a dream.
“…’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.'”
Without hesitation, he took Mary into his home as his wife.
Joseph’s ready response should cause us to celebrate the ordinary who became extraordinary. This one ordinary Joe obeyed God completely and sacrificed himself fully for the sake, not only of his family, but ultimately for you and me.
Celebrate the Ordinary
Yes, Jesus, this no ordinary Baby, should be the central focus of the Christmas season. Yes, Mary deserves full recognition for the humble part she played in the birth of the Messiah. But this Christmas may we also celebrate the radical willingness of ordinary Joseph.
Ordinary Joe said “Yes!” to the commitment of marriage when divorce would have been the easier option. He said “Yes!” to adopting, loving, and raising a son not his own. Ordinary Joe said “Yes!” to sacrificial living for the sake of Jesus. He also said “No!’ to social status and the acceptance of his peers. Ordinary Joe said “No!” to defining his life by the expectations of others.
“When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.”
This Christmas may we consider ordinary Joe who allowed God to change his mind, to shift his focus, to soften his heart, and to bring Jesus home. Joseph gave God room for whatever He desired even when it cost, even when it hurt, even when he didn’t understand, and it went against the grain of all human desire.
Value the Ordinary
God has a perfect plan for each one of us. We may feel our lives are far too ordinary to be used by Him. But let’s allow this beautiful and incredible reminder of two ordinary people, Joseph and Mary, to give us fresh vision and assurance that God is able to use our ordinary lives for His extraordinary purposes.
May we be inspired to put God first, to walk in radical obedience to God’s Word, to love sacrificially, to give up our reputation for the sake of Kingdom worth, to live by our convictions not circumstances, and to place the good of others over ourselves. But most of all, may we welcome the living Christ into our hearts and homes.
God calls each of us to lay aside personal agendas and expectations. He calls us to enter a life of divine purpose. He asks us to trust him — not blindly but faithfully. God promises us that no sacrifice will ever be wasted. And He welcomes us to live our extraordinary calling through ordinary lives in unity with Him.