Mary could hardly believe her eyes! She had thought she was alone as she worked. Then suddenly, there was an angel standing before her! He greeted her and began his message. He told Mary God was with her, and she was the most blessed of all women.
Mary did not understand what this meant. She knew God was always with her, but this sounded different. Was He to be even closer? And to call her blessed! What could this mean? She was still a young lady, and she was afraid.
The angel told her not to be afraid. He said God was very pleased with her. But the next words he spoke seemed to echo around her.
"Thou shalt ... bring forth a son ... He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest...."
Mary knew that this really was an angel sent by God. The message he had brought was amazing, but since it was from God it had to be true. Still, she wondered ... how could this thing be? How could it possibly be?
The angel had said that her baby would be the Son of God! She loved God, but her family was just ordinary. They had no special place of honor in the city. Surely, if God was going to send His Son to earth, He would want Him to be born into a royal family. Surely, God would choose a queen to be the mother of His Son. Mary had never had a child before. How could she be trusted to raise God's own Son?
As the angel spoke to her and explained what was to happen, Mary's fear began to go away. If this was what God wanted, she was willing to do her part. God would give her the strength and wisdom she needed.
As she thought about the angel's message, her wonder and amazement grew. A baby boy! She was going to have a tiny baby boy to hold and love and care for. Her son would be God's Son, Jesus. Then she said, from the bottom of her heart, "I belong to You, God. Whatever You say, I will do."
Soon after that, the angel of the Lord visited Joseph in a dream. He told him that God was going to give Mary a special baby, God's Son. Joseph was to be the baby's earthly father. They were to name the baby Jesus, because He would save His people from their sins.
When Joseph awoke he knew that his dream had been true. He did as the angel had told him to do. Mary and he were soon married. When the baby was born, Joseph called Him Jesus, just as the angel had said he should.
As the Christmas season approaches, begin an ongoing project with your child that reinforces the true meaning of the holiday. A Christmas mural might be one idea. Make a large background of construction paper, and let your child draw and cut out characters to add each week to coincide with the part of the story being studied. Begin this week by drawing the angel who made the announcement to Mary. (The angel can be used in succeeding weeks as one of the heavenly host.)
As you mail out Christmas cards and begin to receive them, share this pleasure with your child. Recall together the message of the angel, and pick out cards which reflect that message and the true meaning of Christmas.