DISCLAIMER: Yes, we know there was no such thing as e-mail back then. It’s unlikely that Mary called Elizabeth “Girl,” and who even knows the name of Herod’s guard? Certain aspects of this wonderful and beautiful story have been “tweaked” for dramatic purposes. Our goal is to look deeper into the story, to wonder what these people may have been thinking. We want to help your youth group see the birth of the Christ child as if it were happening for the first time. We’d like you and them to experience the joy and awe as they did so long ago on the first Christmas.
FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT
You’ll never guess what happened to me, not in a million years. I was going tell you all about it when I saw you, but I just can’t wait. It has been a wonderful and horrible time. Joseph has told my father that there will be no wedding. That’s the horrible part. Now let me tell you about the other.
Mother sent me to the well, just as she does every morning. I keep telling her that Rachel is old enough to fetch the water now, but Mother sends me.
Do you remember when we were little girls and Mother used to say we had to be good, we had to be pure and kind — that maybe someday God might send the Messiah; and if we weren’t good girls then God would go and look somewhere else? We laughed at her.
Lizzie, it happened.
God sent an angel to me. He was wonderful, Lizzie, just wonderful. At first, he was as tall as the temple. A giant. Then, I think he saw how scared I was and suddenly he was the size of any man, taller than Father, but not as tall as Joseph.
He was dressed all in white and had wings like a bird that he just seemed to fold behind him. I thought I was being punished, but he was smiling. He had the kindest smile, and Lizzie he smelled like sugar. Remember Deborah’s mother? She used to make those cakes with the sugar and honey and pour cream on them for us? That’s what angels smell like.
He looked at me — and I’m not making this up — he looked at me like he was admiring me, like I had done something so wonderful to make an angel proud. He said God loves me. He said that God had decided that I was going to bring the Messiah into the world. He said that I was the one. Then he told me I was pregnant.
Lizzie, I can’t begin to tell you what that was like.
I told him he had the wrong girl. I love Joseph, but he and I had never…well, you know.
The angel said I was pregnant and that the father was the Holy Spirit.
Lizzie, at that moment I felt the baby inside of me. I knew what the angel said was true, and there was a light all around both of us. It was like I could taste that light, feel it with my fingers. I could feel that light inside of me. I knew what he said was true.
Lizzie, it’s me. I’m the one. I will bring our Messiah to the world!
I told Joseph. I couldn’t not tell Joseph, and I have never seen him so angry. He went right to Father and broke off our engagement. Father was just as angry and told Mother I would be stoned if I stayed here…so Mother said I was coming to see you.
Lizzie, what am I going to do? I am so sad about Joseph. He is so angry — and has a right to be. Maybe the angel will come and talk to him. Maybe God will make things right again.
Lizzie, I am so sad; and at the same time, I feel this joy inside of me. I feel the love that this child is…I can feel it in my heart. It’s like whenever I feel my heart breaking over Joseph, the baby touches my heart and I am whole again.
Please think for me, Lizzie. I can’t understand why this is happening. Help me think this through like we did when we were girls. We could always come up with a plan together. Girl, I need you more than ever. I will be there in a few days.
The first Advent candle is lighted during the reading of the Scripture.
Psalms 2:1-12 (NIV)
1 Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.
3 “Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their fetters.”
4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.
5 Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,
6 “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.”
7 I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
10 Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
Let us pray. Creator God, this season is all about the waiting. We feel like we have been standing around waiting for the storm and finally hear the thunder in the distance. Let Your love rain down on us, God. Fill us. Keep us. Help us hold on. The waiting is almost over. Amen.