“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary, and he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
The angel said her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’
Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’
The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month of her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’
Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.’ “—Luke 1:26-38
Perplexed by the angel’s words…
Pondering them in her heart….
As a virgin, no wonder Mary was perplexed. How could this be? How could she be pregnant? And how could she be the mother of this holy Child? I don’t blame Mary for being perplexed by the angel’s words and for taking the time to ponder them in her heart. As a virgin women, I know that I would be extremely perplexed and puzzled if someone told me that I was to bear a child.
And then there is her cousin Elizabeth. Elizabeth, in her old age, thinks that she will never be able to bear a child. Yet that is exactly what happens. She becomes pregnant and bears a son. I can picture Elizabeth laughing as she hears that she will bear a child. How can this be? She asks the same questions as Mary. Together these two women share this experience together. I’ve never really thought about it before but I wonder what it was like for Elizabeth to come and meet baby Jesus. Why had Jesus chosen Mary and not herself to be the mother to this precious holy child?
The thing is that God sent God’s one and only son into the world as this beautiful baby boy; born in a manger in Bethlehem. There is something so holy and peaceful about watching a baby sleep. This morning at church I held a baby girl in my arms. She peacefully slept in my arms as I talked to her Mom. And then later this morning, I held another little baby in my arms. These two little infants remind me of how this infant Jesus came into the world as a sign of hope and light in the midst of a dark world. Jesus is born the unlikeliest of places in a stinky, smelly stable where hope is born into the world.
I am reminded of the words to the song “Mary Did You Know?” “Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?; Mary, did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?; Did you know that your baby boy has come to deliver you?; This child that you delivered will soon deliver you.” As she held her precious son in her arms, as he peacefully slept, I wonder if Mary really realized the magnitude of the ways her son would change the world. I think of these words from the song as well: “Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?; Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?; Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?; This sleeping child you’re holding is the great I am.” Mary was indeed holding the Great I am. Mary was indeed holding this precious holy gift that God sent into the world for each and every one of us.
“The birth of the child into the darkness of the world made possible not just a new way of understanding life but a new way of living it.”–Frederick Buechner
Yes, through the birth of this precious holy child, God calls us to be his disciples in the world. God calls us to follow the examples of his Son; the one who, throughout his life, isn’t afraid to sit with tax collectors and sinners; the one who ultimately dies on a cross for YOU and for ME; the one who rises from the dead and shows us his power; the power of Resurrection. As God’s people, we are to live our lives knowing that we have been ravished and continue to be ravished by God’s love for us.
I love these words from Ann Voskamp’s book The Greatest Gift:
“God gives God. That is the gift God always ultimately gives. Because nothing is greater and we have no greater need, God gives God. God gives God, and we only need to slow long enough to unwrap the greatest Gift with our time; time in His Word, time in His presence, and time at His feet.”–Ann Voskamp