It has become vogue for politicians, business leaders, and cause-leaders to appear in public, or even in their living rooms, with Hollywood stars or pro athletes. Isn’t it convincing evidence of a person’s greatness to be buddies with David Beckham, Oprah Winfrey, Julia Roberts, or LeBron James?

As confounding as Jesus’ words were to an adult—such as “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”—to a world that lauds greatness, notoriety, and stardom, an infant Savior is an oxymoron.

After a June Colorado wildfire destroyed our home, my wife, Pam, and I settled into a rental. We are grateful for the place God has provided. One of the first mornings there, as I spent time reading and praying, I lifted my head and found that the house backed into a full view of the burned out mountainside. “Ugh! Really, God? I have to stare at that for the next year?” My heart sank, my soul was weary, and I wondered “why” on so many fronts.

When Jesus was still a newborn, Mary and Joseph took him to the temple to present Him to the Lord and to make a sacrifice. While they were there, they met two very interesting people: Simeon and Anna. To me, what makes these two so interesting is their willingness to listen to what God told them and to obey—even though it was very uncomfortable to do so.

In our last post, we learned how Mary, Jesus’ mother, had good ears, was ready to hear, and receive what God had to say. You might say, “Well, it’s pretty easy to hear God, listen, and receive what He has to say if an angel shows up and delivers the message!” That may make sense, but we have a pretty profound example of the opposite in the Christmas story.

When we consider the heroes of the Christmas story, the most exemplary has got to be Mary, the unwed, pregnant teen. In the account found in Luke 1:26-38 MSG, the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary in the town of Nazareth, in Galilee. He had a message for her. You would think that his first words—“Good morning! You're beautiful with God's beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you” (Luke 1:28 MSG) would be received happily! But Mary was not so sure. She was troubled and wondered what that could possibly mean!