Luke 1: 39-45. In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
There is no mere sentimentality here. This isn’t the meeting of two expectant mothers exchanging tales of their pregnancies. Elizabeth and Mary are both facing harrowing situations. Elizabeth is experiencing her salvation. The salvation of her nation. And she knows that it won’t be easy or pretty. And so she blesses Mary. Why? Because Mary believed God – blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.
Jesus himself will strike down sentimentality about his mother and replace it with the reality of belief. It happened in the middle of his sermon.
Luke 11:27-28. As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” 28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
What has this Advent been like for you? Has it been sentimentality? Lights and carols? Traditions and services? Musicals and movies? Is Christmas about having “all the feels?”
Or is it about hearing the word of God and believing it?
What if the good news of Christmas is actually true? What if there is salvation for us? All of us. From shepherds to wise men. Kings and paupers. Elizabeths and Marys. Rich and poor. Moral and immoral. What if there really is light for all who sit in darkness in the shadow of death (Luke 1:78-79)?
What if these last couple days of Advent were really about believing it? What if we reject the mindless sentimentality and embrace the reality of our salvation found in Christ. Our union with Christ. A union that removes the need for the sentimentality. What if Jesus is the way to the simplicity and innocence we desire? What if it’s through Jesus instead of Christmas that we find deliverance from our numbness and find reassurance in our doubts? What if “to live is Christ” is our hope instead of the sentimentality of Christmas?
Have you used the sentimentality of Christmas to escape reality? How does union with Christ allow us to face reality with belief, like Elizabeth and Mary did?
Here’s your overdose of sentimentality – Silent Night + Bing
And for even more sentimentality, here’s this year’s Sainsbury Ad.