I appreciate the depth of creativity I see in this newer gender reveal party deal. I continue to be amazed at how people can think outside the box to announce the gender of their baby to come. The excitement is palpable. You can feel it in the air. These parties weren’t a thing when Wendy was pregnant. In some ways, I wish they were because you really get to go all out with new and different ideas. In other ways, I am glad we didn’t because the pressure of having to come up with something new and different is a lot. And then I read how gender reveal parties are nothing new. They have been for at least thousands of years. We may not have recognized them as such. They may not have categorized as this. But have you checked out this announcement? It is one for the ages. People are still talking about it. It is still a hit all these many years later. It’s like a fireworks show for a whole company of people. It is incredible.
There is Zechariah who gets his announcement in church from an angel – even in his older age, he would have a son – it’s a boy! His gender reveal was so transforming it left him speechless for like the next 9 months. And there are the shepherds who were minding their business and get an announcement that shocks, surprises, and otherwise changes their whole lives – it’s a boy! They are so taken back they have to travel to celebrate with the parents. There are magi who get the gender reveal through a star! A whole star so bright it cannot be ignored. There is a whole star just to announce a birth – beats any birth announcement we might could come up with. There is a star revealing – it’s a boy! And there is, of course, the ultimate announcement – it comes in two forms. There is an announcement by angels to Joseph – look, Joseph…your fiancé is pregnant and as you know, it isn’t yours…but it’s all good…it’s God’s…so, I’m going to need you to take care of Mary and this baby, because God needs you…oh, and it’s a boy! Can you imagine? So many reveals in some pretty spectacular ways that no one can compete – or would even want to try. But, for me, this one is the ultimate. It is the reveal to Mary. To a young woman who had not done anything to become pregnant is now pregnant – she isn’t married – she isn’t born to people with great means – she isn’t a princess in the world’s eyes – she is a young, willing girl who God reveals…YOU are carrying my baby boy! And this is the place where Mary settles…the place where she comes as she sits with her cousin Elizabeth…
46 And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
Mary realized – this is God’s own child. This baby boy is not the ordinary. This event would change the course of events for the entire world. This baby would shake the foundations of all that was believed to be true. This baby would shift the dynamics of the comfortable and comfort the distressed. This baby would bring something to this world that the world didn’t even know it needed. This baby would bring more than anyone – including Mary – could comprehend. Note that even though this is Mary’s proclamation, it does not mean she completely understood it – no more than we understand it. All she knows is this – things are changing.
Things are changing – that seems to be the theme of this year. Things are changing faster than we can even see or understand or take in. Things are changing so much we don’t know which way to turn or what to do with all this. Yet, let’s not forget – things are not changing near as much for us in a year as they did for Elizabeth and Zechariah, for Mary and Joseph. Our changes are insignificant in comparison to the life changes these folks would encounter. And they ARE doing what God called them to do. God is working even when all else seems chaotic. God is revealing when all else seems cloudy and frightening. God is working when no one really understands. God is working to bring about a change. And when God is in it – it is good.
Mary’s proclamation reveals it will be a plan no one was expecting. She gives birth to the One who will bring peace – but not in a military way. She brings forth a child who will bring hope, but not in things or governments or powers. She bursts forth One with joy – but in unexpected ways – joy that is different and yet natural. This is the joy which comes not from things or events, but in the One who fills us with joy no matter our circumstances.
The joy of Jesus causes us to get excited because redemption is born. The joy of Jesus causes the ultimate feeling of satisfaction because all we need is fulfilled in HIM. Jesus brings joy because we no longer need anything in this world to bring us happiness – we have a joy rooted in us that goes deeper than any gift could touch. We have a joy which gives us eyes to see God at work, even when everything else seems scary and unsteady. We have joy, not because of anything we have done, but because of everything God has done.
May you find joy – the joy rooted within. May you live in joy – you have been given all you need. May you celebrate in joy – there is still so much to celebrate. May joy overwhelm you, comfort you, and cause you to see God at work. May your joy be complete.