In a recent conversation with a friend of mine who is an accountant, she lamented how this time of year is her busiest season. In contrast, my job of being a pro-life educator means year end is my slow season: people generally don’t want to hear about a negative topic like abortion during the positive season of Christmas. And yet, the topic of abortion and the story of Christmas have their connection.
The Christmas story involves a young, unmarried girl faced with an unplanned pregnancy. She wonders “How can this be?” (Luke 1:34) Her not-yet-husband considers putting “her away secretly”
How many in our culture find themselves in a similar situation of an unexpected pregnancy? How many find themselves bewildered? But not all choose to respond as Joseph and Mary did; some choose abortion. Which brings to mind the power of choice, which Holocaust-survivor Viktor Frankl once spoke about as follows: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Our Heavenly Father, Mary and Joseph teach us to choose well when we “choose one’s attitude…choose one’s own way” in the set of circumstances we find ourselves in:
God reminds us to choose the right attitude: Even in crisis and the unknown, we are to, as His messenger declared, “not be afraid” (Matthew 1:20, Luke 1:30).
Mary reminds us to choose to trustingly surrender to our Creator who is much wiser than His creatures: “Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).
Joseph reminds us to choose to protect the vulnerable: “‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins’ …When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him” (Matthew 1:21, 24).
And because of these choices, we have the conception and birth of the Christ child to celebrate. And what a celebration it is: the Scriptures show through at least seven people/gatherings that an encounter with “the little Lord Jesus” is cause for praise:
Mary: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name” (Luke 1:47-49).
Pre-born John the Baptist: “…the babe leapt in her womb…” (Luke 1:41)
Elizabeth: “…Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?’” (Luke 1:41-43).
An angel and the Heavenly host: “‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!’” (Luke 2:13-14)
Shepherds: “…the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen” (Luke 2:20).
Simeon: “…when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God” (Luke 2:27-28).
Anna: “…coming up at that very hour she gave thanks to God, and spoke of him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38).
The Christmas story teaches us to celebrate new life. Although a pregnant woman today does not nurture Christ in her womb like Mary did, each pregnant woman does nurture an unrepeatable and irreplaceable soul stamped with the image of the Almighty. Regardless of the circumstances, the presence of God’s creation, which is “very good” (Genesis 1:31), should prompt us to choose as Mary and Joseph did: choose the right attitude, choose to trustingly surrender to God, and choose to protect the vulnerable.