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Let Earth Receive Her King

An Advent Letter for the Inspire Movement

Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let Earth receive her King! Let every heart, prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing!” So sings the eighteenth century Christmas staple. But what does that mean to receive the King? What does that mean in practice? Who is the King? How should we and how do we actually receive the King—the Word of God? The King is Jesus Christ, the Son of God—the Word that became a human being and lived here with us. 

The Advent (the promised coming) of Christ and his Nativity (his birth) are central to our faith and our life in God. For most of us, Luke’s account of the Mary’s story is quite familiar. Think with me about this innocent young girl. Perhaps she has something to teach us about how we (the Earth) should receive the Word of God. There she is, perhaps fifteen years old, a Jewish girl in a little town called Nazareth with a population less than where I live—Peru, Indiana. At her young age, Mary is already engaged to a man named Joseph. Very importantly, Luke notes that Mary was a virgin. Of all the young Jewish girls in all the small towns in Galilee, God saw and chose Mary. The Eternal God of Creation chose to send the Living Word to Mary and through Mary to us who desperately need a Savior. Two important points leap out here. First, God will send his Word to any receptive heart, regardless of our location.  Second, as it was with Mary, God’s Word is received in two ways, externally and internally. Mary’s story is an Outside-Inside story.

Luke states that God sent the angel Gabriel to a specific place, Nazareth, and to a specific person, Mary.

Gabriel spoke: “Greetings, you who are highly favored!  The Lord is with you.” Gabriel then delivers the greatest short sermon ever preached: “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.” Did you get the point here?  Mary received the Word of God, first by hearing it! She received it externally.  Hearing God speak is absolutely vital to our knowing God. Few of us, if any, will ever come to know the Savior of the world until we first hear His word to us. How do you and I receive the Word of God? Somewhere, somehow, through some person we must first hear God’s Word. We do many important things in our churches today. But, the main thing at most churches and small groups is the Word of God that warms our hearts and helps us makes difference wherever we go. Mary heard the Word of God.  I pray that you will faithfully hear the Word of God this Christmas and beyond.

Mary heard the Word, but that was not all. Mary also believed Gabriel and she received the Word. She received the Word internally. Listen to Luke’s report (Luke 1:38), “Then Mary said, ‘Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.’”  For the nine months that followed her reception of the external Word, Mary carried the eternal, living Word in her womb. The Apostle John said it clearly, “In the beginning was the Word (Christ) and the Word was with God (the Triune Godhead), and the Word was God.  The Word became flesh (in Mary’s womb) and made his dwelling among us, and we beheld His glory” (John 1:1, 14). An awesome truth cries out here: Mary conceived the Word in her womb, the Incarnation. In that action of in-fleshness, incarnation, God entered our space, our time zone.  Jesus came to us;  God dwelt among us. It is true, you and I will never birth the Savior. But Mary’s personal experience of internalizing of the Word does have a parallel in our lives. Hearing the Word is important, but not enough. Receiving the Word is vital.

So, what might Mary’s internal and external reception of the Word teach us today? First, Mary was not immune to strange news, surprises, troubling statements and difficult questions. Second, in all of this, she surrendered; she heard the Word and she received the Word. Beloved, regardless of the many challenges before you, my prayer is that like Mary, you too will hear the Word and will then receive the Word. I offer you this call to action: Like Mary, surrender yourself to the voice of God when He speaks to you. Listen, externally. Receive Him into your heart and life, internally. Pass on the Word and thereby the Earth will receive her King.

Your fellow disciple in Christ, Samuel A. Odubena

Samuel is a Methodist Minister in Indiana, USA and a member of the Inspire Scholars

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