A quick search of the Internet Movie Database turns up more than 100 movies with “miracle” in the title, with at least 20 also containing the word “Christmas.” It would seem that “Christmas” and “miracle” go hand in hand.
“Miracle on 34th Street” is such a movie. Two favorite scenes occur when the customer tells Mr. Macy that she’ll always shop at Macy’s because their Santa Claus told her that there was a better deal at Gimbels. The other scene occurs when post office workers deliver several sacks of mail to the courtroom. Whether an actual miracle occurred on 34th Street, it’s a heartwarming movie. And it leads us to think about other miracles on another street.
Before Jesus was born, the angel Gabriel told Mary that she would become the mother of the savior. This took place in Nazareth. I don’t know what street Mary lived on, but I’ll call it Nazareth Street. There are at least three miracles that took place there. The ultimate reconciliation of God and humanity began. Jesus’ virgin conception took place. And Mary responded with faith and faithfulness.
The first miracle on Nazareth Street was how the reconciliation of God and humanity was set in motion. The story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is the story of the separation of God and people, how people fell and how their relationship with God fell apart. It seems we’ve been in conflict with God and with one another ever since. In the person of Jesus Christ, God and humanity are joined together. In his ministry, Jesus sought to heal the conflict between God and people and between people and people. Jesus died as a result of this conflict, but through his death and resurrection, forgiveness and reconciliation are possible. This miracle began in Nazareth, and it’s no wonder that peace and goodwill are the themes of Christmas. Peace and goodwill are the sum and substance of the first miracle of Nazareth Street.
The second miracle on Nazareth Street is Jesus’ virgin conception and birth. It is a holy and precious teaching of the Bible that is given to us for our comfort. Mary’s son is, in fact, God’s son. The point of the virgin conception and birth is that Jesus is both God and man. he is true God, the sinless son of God. He was born to be the sinless sacrifice for of mankind. When Genesis 3 says that God was walking on the earth, that may be a metaphor. But when Jesus was with us on earth, God literally walked among us. And yet, Jesus is also truly human. He is truly one of us. He was also truly human in the sense that he lived the way people were supposed to — true to God and in communion with God.
The third miracle on Nazareth Street is Mary’s faith and faithful response. Mary believed the angel’s message. She says, “Be it unto me according to your word.” That’s the opposite of our world today. Our credo is, “What’s in it for me?” But Mary responded in faithfulness and humility. She willingly bore the savior. Like Mary, we are invited to bear the word of God — Christ himself — in our hearts and lives. We’re invited to believe. We’re invited to cherish Christ in our lives as we would a little baby. We’re invited to bear the Word to a lost and rebellious world. The third miracle on Nazareth Street is Mary’s humble faith, a humble faith that is meant to be an example for us.
Three miracles occurred on Nazareth Street. When we open our lives to the miracles on Nazareth Street, they become the miracles on Atherton, on East College, on Beaver and on our own streets.
Chris Milarch is the pastor at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in State College.