Thanks to Gabriel’s timely arrival, Mary and Joseph’s “unplanned” pregnancy did not become a crisis pregnancy.
I love Christmas. The carols, the peppermint shakes at Chick-Fil-A, the lights hung on every tree…they all make my heart sing.
My favorite part of the holiday will be when I gather my son and daughter, both under three, to tell them the Christmas story. Mary and Joseph, the wise men, the angelic choir, shepherds, the animal-filled manger, and the birth of the Son of God. It is hard to find a more memorable cast of characters or setting in all of literature.
It is also the story of the most famous “unplanned” pregnancy in history.
Last year, I wrote a post asking what Christmas would have been like without Joseph. You can read it here. This year, I have been wondering what that first Christmas would have been like without the angel Gabriel.
As a refresher, it was Gabriel that visited Mary and Joseph and told them that the child in Mary’s womb was the very Son of God. Imagine for a minute how the story would have changed if Mary and Joseph had never met the most famous angel in the Bible.
Mary was a young woman, likely between the ages of 15 and 17. She was betrothed to be married to an older man with an established carpentry business. While Joseph was her fiancée, and in many ways already like a husband, their wedding had not yet taken place. Any sexual intimacy was strictly prohibited.
Without Gabriel to alert Mary to her coming pregnancy, she would have been left without a reason for the miracle growing within her womb. Joseph would have assumed, as the rest of the village did, that she had violated her vows of sexual purity and committed fornication. Being a just man, he would have broken off the engagement as quietly as possible, heartbroken by Mary’s apparent betrayal. She would have been left to face the village’s accusations alone.
Jesus would have been born to a single mother.
He would have grown up without a father, without a community, and likely without a home; keep in mind that being an orphan in Biblical times was just about the hardest life one could have. God’s only Son would not have been raised in the environment God desires for all to be raised in: a loving family with a mother and father committed to one another in marriage.
Yet, this is not what happened. Before Mary became pregnant, Gabriel arrived and told her not to fear. God had chosen her for a most sacred task. When Joseph found out that she was pregnant, when the village accused her of fornication, Gabriel arrived to give him the message of hope he needed to remain by her side: to raise Jesus as his own.
As I wrote last year, Joseph’s actions would have confirmed the community’s suspicions: Joseph and Mary slept together before their wedding – they committed fornication. His reputation as an honorable man would have been marred by this clear act of indiscretion. If not for Gabriel, Joseph would have done what he had in mind to do: “put her away quietly.”
But thanks to Gabriel’s timely arrival, Mary and Joseph’s “unplanned” pregnancy did not become a crisis pregnancy.
This story is why Care Net exists. Every day, thousands of women and men face unplanned pregnancies. Researchers say that approximately 2,500 babies will die in abortions today. That means that 5,000 women and men could be scarred by the emotional, spiritual, and psychological effects of abortion.
Every. Single. Day.
However, like Joseph’s decision in the Christmas story, these pregnancy decisions are not certain. Abortion does not have to claim these precious lives. All that is needed are “Gabriels” to step into these difficult pregnancy decisions with words of hope, hearts of compassion, and gifts of help.
What is amazing to me about the birth of Christ is that God did not just make it happen. He used His servants. He used Mary, a young woman sold out to His will. He used Joseph, a courageous man willing to sacrifice his good name for what was right. He used shepherds to herald His Son’s arrival, and barn animals to serve as witnesses to the greatest birth in history.
He could have done it without any of them, but he chose not to. He worked through His servants to accomplish His life-saving plan.
And the first servant was Gabriel.
I think God is still looking for willing servants to be the “Gabriels” that the women and men considering abortion need to meet in order to choose life. There are 5,000 women and men making a pregnancy decision today, but —more than enough to speak hope into these circumstances.
One thing is for certain: if we, who claim the name pro-life, who believe that every human life begins at conception and is worthy of protection, don’t do it, who will?
Will you be a “Gabriel” this Christmas in the life of someone who needs you?