A Southern Pastor: Just Another Credit Fraud

Me:        Hello

Caller:   Hello. Can I speak with Melanie?

Me:        This is she.

Caller:   Oh, good!  Melanie this is Joe Smith with Acme surveys. Do you remember three weeks ago when someone was in your neighborhood and asked you to fill out a survey?

Me:        Yes

Caller:   Because you filled out our survey, you were entered in our weekly drawing for various prizes, and I am happy to tell you that this week you are the grand prize winner of our big corporate gift!

Me:        Okay

Caller:   You have won a three day package which includes hotel stay in the Hyatt, four meal tickets, and your choice of two shows. The only thing not covered is your travel. Isn’t that great?

Me:        What’s the catch?

Caller:   (laughs) This is not a timeshare and you do not have to attend anything. It really is just a prize package for filling out our survey. No catch.

Me:        I think I will just pass. Thanks. (hangs up)

In our fast paced world of commercials and sales pitches, we have become skeptical of anything that is offered as a gift. Nothing is free. If someone is nice to me, if someone offers to help me, if someone wants to give me a gift, there must be a catch. It is probably just another credit fraud. They aren’t getting any of my information! The opportunity for a gift is not as great as the fear of being taken, or of being held in debt to the gift giver. Sometimes it is simply the doubt that WE could be worthy of the good thing offered to us. Surely there is someone else who deserves it more. Or we are afraid that the catch will include an obligation for something more than we want to commit to: a one hour timeshare presentation is not worth three free nights in a hotel.

Can you imagine the thoughts that must have been running through Mary’s head: I am being spoken to by an Angel? Why ME? I am a virgin. I cannot get pregnant. I am only a young girl. I am not worthy to be singled out. This must be a trick. It cannot be real. She even voiced her concerns. “How will this be…?”

Fortunately, Mary did not “pass” on the gift being offered to her. “I am the Lord’s servant…May your words to me be fulfilled.” I found out later that someone else on my street had won a prize from that company. It was legitimate. While this instance was just a small vacation package, it made me wonder how many other opportunities I had turned down, how many opportunities for joy I had missed, how many other gifts had there been that I was too fearful or too doubtful to accept, and was I just as fearful of giving gifts as receiving them?

God’s gifts are all around us. His love and grace are freely offered with the only catch being that we accept them. Do not doubt that they are meant for you. Respond “I am your servant” and simply accept the joy.

Luke 1: 26-38

26 When Elizabeth was six months pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a city in Galilee, 27 to a virgin who was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David’s house. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 When the angel came to her, he said, “Rejoice, favored one! The Lord is with you!”29 She was confused by these words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. God is honoring you.31 Look! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.32 He will be great and he will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father. 33 He will rule over Jacob’s house forever, and there will be no end to his kingdom.”

34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen since I haven’t had sexual relations with a man?”

35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come over you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the one who is to be born will be holy. He will be called God’s Son. 36 Look, even in her old age, your relative Elizabeth has conceived a son. This woman who was labeled ‘unable to conceive’ is now six months pregnant. 37 Nothing is impossible for God.”

38 Then Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be with me just as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

Melanie Tubbs is a professor, pastor, mother, Mimi, and true Arkansas woman. She lives with nine cats and one dog on a quiet hill in a rural county where she pastors a church and teaches history at the local university. Her slightly addictive personality comes out in shameful Netflix binges and a massive collection of books. Vegetarian cooking, reading mountains of books for her seminary classes, and crocheting for the churches prayer shawl ministry take up most of her free time, and sharing the love of Christ forms the direction of her life. May the Peace of Christ be with You.