Imagine with me for a few moments.
The day begins like any other in the small village. Mary wakes as the first rays of sun peek over the horizon, and after dressing for the day, she carries her clay jar to the well to draw water for the day, basking in the early morning sunlight as she walks. When she returns home, she stokes the fire and cooks breakfast. Then, along with her mother, Mary sets about tending to her family’s home and animals, all the while thinking about the day when she would go to live with her soon to be husband and begin her own household routines. However, somewhere between feeding the chickens and dinner preparations her whole world turns upside down.
“Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”
Who is talking? Mary turns around, and towering before her, twice as tall as the olive trees in the grove on the edge of town, is a luminescent man. Her pulse quickens as she is stunned to silence. What can this possibly mean?
“Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God!”
Mary stares at the shiny visitor with wide eyes. An angel from God?
He continues, “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”
A king?! Wait. Is he saying I’m going to have a baby? But I’m only betrothed to Joseph! Her heart beats in her throat as she recovers her voice. “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.”
Wow. So the Lord doesn’t need Joseph for this.
“What’s more,” he says, “your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”
We have been waiting for this king! And I have been chosen to be his mother! Of all the girls, the Lord chose me. With eyes watering, Mary breathes deeply and responds, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.”
And just as suddenly as he appeared, the angel vanishes.
How would you have felt if you were Mary that day?
Gabriel did not mince words; Mary would bear the promised Messiah, the Son of God. What a weighty announcement! Here in Luke, we get relatively little of Mary’s thoughts on the matter, however. Certainly, her mind was racing with questions, fears, and excitement; for Gabriel’s message, while direct and clear, was not overly detailed. And Mary could have chosen to succumb to any number of her swirling emotions or fears. But she didn’t. Instead, Mary responded to Gabriel’s message with a simple statement of trust and obedience. What a far cry from Zechariah’s response to Gabriel in our passage from last week!
Gabriel’s announcement transformed Mary’s whole life and propelled her into a surprise season of expectant waiting, first to become pregnant and then for the birth of her son. And Mary declared her intention to trust and obey without knowing all the details or understanding all the facets and implications. And I imagine with each new day, she declared her trust and obedience anew.
As we continue our journey through this season of Advent, let us learn from Mary’s example. When we find ourselves in seasons of uncertainty and waiting, when details are more fuzzy than we would like, let us, too, declare, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.”
READ: Luke 1:26-45
PONDER & DISCUSS:
- Which part of this familiar story stands out to you?
- How would you have felt if you were Mary?
- How does Mary’s response to Gabriel differ from Zechariah’s?
- How might God be speaking to you through Mary’s story?
- What might God be asking you to trust him with right now?
PRACTICE: Let’s continue to be formed and transformed by Mary’s story this week. While we do not have a record of Mary’s thoughts during Gabriel’s visit, we do have her song of praise, her response to seeing God at work in Elizabeth. Take some time this week to read through this song in Luke 1:46-56 and continue to ponder Mary’s faith.
LISTEN: Listen to the song “Like Mary” from the album Gloria Gloria by Jess Ray & Langdon.