“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

Luke 1:38

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

Romans 12:1

 

Today I’m beginning a short series of Life for Leaders devotions for Christmas. I hope to enrich your celebration of the birth of Jesus by offering some biblically-based reflections that lift up aspects of Christmas we sometimes overlook. As always, these reflections will make connections to your daily life and work.

Figures of baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph set before a background of twinkling lights.Christmas has a lot to do with bodies, if you stop to think about it. The nativity narrative in Luke begins with the news that the aged body of Elizabeth will soon bear a son. Then, a virgin named Mary learns that her body will soon contain the very Son of God. When God’s Son is born, he has a real body, one that starts out life in weakness and dependency. If you take away the bodies, you really don’t have Christmas at all.

And if you take away bodies, you really don’t have Christianity at all. Without the Incarnation, Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus, all of which had greatly to do with a human body, Christianity doesn’t exist.

But it’s not just the body of Jesus that matters. Your body is also essential to your living as a Christian. Romans 12:1 reads, “[O]ffer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” Yes, Christian discipleship begins with hearing and believing the good news of God’s grace in Christ. But believing is just the beginning of a whole life of serving the Lord. And this life is made possible by the fact that you have a body. Through your body you’ll be able to serve the Lord in all you do.

Thus, our response to the good news of God’s grace in Christ should be rather like Mary’s response to the good news of her unique calling. Mary said to the angel, “I am the Lord’s servant… May your word to me be fulfilled” (Luke 1:38). Similarly, when we receive the Gospel in faith, we say to the Lord, “I am your servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” Like Mary, we offer all that we are to God, including our bodies. Through our bodies, we serve God by working, by embracing, by seeking justice, by bowing before him. And, as he did with Mary, God works through our bodies to fulfill his purposes in this world.

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:

Why do you think bodies matter so much in the Christmas story?

How might Mary’s example encourage you in your response to God’s grace in Christ?

In what ways are you offering your body to God as a living sacrifice?

How might you give even more of yourself to the Lord?

PRAYER:

Gracious God, thank you for the story of Mary. Thank you for her response to the news of her unexpected pregnancy. Thank you for the way Mary inspires us to respond to you by offering our bodies as a living sacrifice.

Help me, Lord, to give myself to you as your servant. May your word be fulfilled in me. May you use me for your purposes in this world. May I learn to offer my body to you in everything I do. Be glorified in me! Amen.

 

Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
The Community of Grace at Work (Romans 12)

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