Week 2 of Advent we continue with our narrative of the birth of Jesus. The angel Gabriel visited old Zechariah and barren wife Elizabeth to announce that their prayers had been answered and Elizabeth would now conceive. Zechariah doubted and became mute till John was born. Elizabeth secluded herself for five months. Luke opens now by starting to connect the dots. “In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy…” Elizabeth is now showing and time for her seclusion to stop. Remember, though, that they are not the main characters in the Christmas story, only strong supporting actors.
The angel Gabriel now visits Mary who lives in a small village of Nazareth in Galilee in northern Israel. We learn that her betrothed Joseph is a descendant of David. Neither Joseph nor Mary are from the priestly lineage. Mary, like Zechariah is troubled. The angel’s message presents all sorts of complications to her life story. She is not sexually active and could be stoned if she were to become pregnant. Talking to an angel is one thing but having a baby takes the interaction with the divine to a whole new level.
Going to church to please our parents probably is done as necessary when children. Reading our Bible and having devotions is a spiritual discipline we start growing when we become young adults. Discerning God’s will about a spouse or a job or a career certainly is an affirmation we seek. These actions somehow still allow the reader a certain amount of control of their lives. When God’s word intercepts our will then we start to seriously question and take interaction with God to a new level. We might feel the pinch in being challenged to tithe our income. We might feel the pinch when realizing we need to forgive someone who has hurt us deeply. We might feel stress in meeting people of different ethnic backgrounds who worship style is quite different from us.
Mary asks, “How can this be?” She does not have a Bible and is only a woman without voice. Whereas Zechariah doubted the possible but Mary questions the impossible. Both Mary and Zechariah struggle but for us to note today is that Mary found PEACE, the theme of week 2 of Advent, when she heard that all that is being asked of her is within God’s will. He will be there enabling her to step into the future he has for her. Her famous response was, “I am the Lord’s servant.”
Sometimes God asks us to do the impossible. Forgiveness for abuse, betrayal, and deep wounds often takes an act of God. Often we realize we cannot by our own strength walk to the mission field, walk through a divorce, deal with a differently abled child, or maybe accept a child’s wedding that we feel is unwise or that child’s addictions. So many things feel impossible. But Mary did not go through this alone. God was with her. Take a couple minutes to name that which you do not like to name in public and thank God that he goes with you and he knows how it will all work out. Thank goodness!!