I am sorry that I have not kept up with my plan to share more excerpts from my Advent devotional book, Open Before Christmas. However, I am happy to say that I have sold out of my copies! Here is another excerpt for Saturday of the Third Week of Advent....
Late one evening a professor sat at his desk working on the next day’s lectures. He shuffled through the papers and mail placed there by his housekeeper. He began to throw them in the wastebasket when one magazine— not even addressed to him but delivered to his office by mistake—caught his attention. It fell open to an article titled: The Needs of the Congo Mission.
The professor began reading it idly, but then he was intrigued by these words: “The need is great here. We have no one to work the northern province of Gabon in the central Congo. And it is my prayer as I write this article that God will lay His hand on one—one on whom, already, the Master’s eyes have been cast—that he or she shall be called to this place to help us.” The professor closed the magazine and wrote in his diary: “My search is over.” He gave himself to go to the Congo.
The professor’s name was Albert Schweitzer. That little article, hidden in a periodical intended for someone else, was placed “by accident” in Schweitzer’s mailbox. “By chance” his housekeeper put the magazine on the professor’s desk. “By happenstance” he noticed the title, which seemed to leap out at him. Dr. Schweitzer became one of the great figures of the twentieth century in a humanitarian work nearly unmatched in human history. Was it chance? No, I don’t think so. I believe it was the providence of God at work.
By the providence of God, you are reading this book. By the providence of God, you have been born in a certain place, brought up in a certain family, been given certain abilities and certain opportunities. God, in his providence, has chosen you for a special work that only you can do.
God, in his providence, also chose a certain young girl, who lived two thousand years ago, to be the human mother of his Son and our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is her story that we read from Luke 1:26-56....
In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”
And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm, he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their throne, but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.”
Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.