To Baptists around the world during this Christmas Season,
Calling, challenging circumstances, and community were the words that came to the fore as I was reading the Gospel of Luke chapter 1. The angel appears to Mary with an invitation to an incredible calling. She is invited to birth the Savior of the world and to mother the Prince of Peace. It was an invitation to an incredible calling in the midst of challenging circumstances: betrothed but not yet married, scandalous in its appearance, undeniable in its impact, indescribable except by truth received with grace. At times, the Lord’s invitation to an incredible calling requires an embrace of suffering for God’s glory in the midst of challenging circumstances.
Mary responded by affirming that her commitment was to a character grounded in the goodness of God.
In grace, the biblical narrative does not leave Mary alone in challenging circumstances, but continues with a surprise announcement. The angel immediately invites Mary into community. He reveals that her cousin, Elizabeth, the one whom the world had dismissed as too old to conceive, was bearing a special child. Mary’s invitation to an incredible calling was never meant for her to bear alone. Mary’s challenging circumstances were never meant for her to negotiate by herself.
She received the grace of community, a grace we too are called to receive, and to give.
This Christmas, would you choose again the power of relationship?
For those with whom you are in relationship, would you affirm that you remain committed to journey with them? They need you just as you need them. This Christmas, in your unique circumstances, private pain, and personal giftedness, would you allow community to once again choose you? You are needed.
Our callings are meant to be lived out in the context of a community. Our challenging circumstances are meant to be borne in the grace of community and in relationship with one another. As a spirit of division whispers in our world, let us embrace the truth that life and love are found in community. Christmas is a call to the faithful that, just as we need the grace of God, we need the grace of one another.
We belong together because we belong to Jesus Christ. Because we belong to Jesus Christ, we are called together in the Holy Spirit to God’s global mission.
On behalf of all of us at the Baptist World Alliance and Baptists in 125 countries and territories, this Christmas may God help you find and give the grace of community.
Rev. Elijah Brown, Ph.D. General Secretary
P.S. I want to personally invite you to experience the grace of a global Baptist community at the 22nd Baptist World Congress, July 22-26, 2020, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Gathering under the theme “Together,” it will be a powerful moment to listen, learn, pray, and serve with one another. Visit BWA2020.org to reserve your spot today.
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