A Visit from an angel
The angel Gabriel tells Mary about the birth of Jesus.
A Christmas tree angel
But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. Luke 1:30-32 (NIV)
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What do you put at the very top of your Christmas tree? Some people put a star at the top of their tree. That's a good choice. After all, a special star played a very important part in the story of Christmas. Some people like to put an angel at the top of their tree. That's a good choice too, because angels also played a very important role in the Christmas story.
As you probably know, angels are messengers from God. Today, I want to tell you about a very important angel by the name of Gabriel. Many years ago, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to deliver a message to a young virgin named Mary who was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph.
The angel appeared to Mary and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you."
Mary was frightened and confused by the angel's greeting. "Don't be afraid, Mary," the angel told her. "You have found favor with God. You will give birth to a son and you will name him Jesus."
Mary asked the angel. "How can this happen? I am a virgin."
The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. The baby will be holy and he will be called the Son of God."
"I am the Lord's servant," Mary replied, "let everything happen just as you have said."
God could have chosen anyone to give birth to Jesus, but he chose Mary, a young virgin living in the little village of Nazareth. She wasn't very important, but she was important to God, and he chose her to do the most important thing one could imagine -- he chose her to give birth to his Son. God still chooses unimportant people to perform important tasks. He has given you and me the task of sharing the good news of Jesus and his love to the whole world. "Go and make disciples of all nations." (Matthew 28:19) Can you imagine a more important task? This year, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, let us, like Mary, answer God's call. "I am the Lord's servant, Let it be with me just as you have said."
Dear Father, we thank you for this story about how you sent the angel Gabriel to take your message to Mary. We also thank you that you have given us the task of taking the message of Jesus and his love to all the world. Amen.