During Advent, we not only remember how Christ first came into the lives of the individuals at the nativity, but how he came into our own lives and continues to transform us. We invite you to read the gospel account of Mary and reflect upon how she had faith that God would keep His promises to His people.
Full Scripture passage: Luke 1:26-38, 46-56
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.
A season of immense anticipation began with an angel of the Lord appearing to a poor Nazarene girl, whom he called “favored one.” The promised Messiah was finally coming, carried in the womb of humanity through the faithfulness of young Mary. But Mary was deeply troubled by the angel’s greeting, perhaps because she recognized the weight of being chosen by Yahweh, set aside to play a role in the fulfillment of His promises.
And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name 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 father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”And the angel answered 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 called holy—the Son of God.”
I am reminded that, in this moment of prophetic joy, Mary did not know the end of this story. Mary will not only see Jesus born in the form of a human babe, the miracle of Immanuel –God with us– but she will see him die in completion of God’s promise. As Simeon prophesies to Mary later in the book of Luke, “A sword will pierce your own soul too.” Not only was Mary invited to play a role in the fulfillment of God’s promise by giving birth to Jesus, but she was also invited to suffer with Jesus as he gave himself up for us. But Mary gets to experience a joy that transcends suffering, as she holds the promise of Jesus within her and the building anticipation of coming redemption. Christ is coming, and he is already here. This is the joy of delighting in what God is going to do. In joy and faithfulness, Mary responded: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
In response to this astonishing proclamation from God, and at the threshold of the fulfillment of centuries of prophecy, Mary sang her song of praise to God:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
Mary rejoiced with her song of praise, pregnant with the promise of hope and new life. Rejoice with Mary today in the coming of Jesus in human form to bear the weight of the sin of the world! Just as Mary held the promise of Jesus within her, we are invited to hold the promises of Jesus within us, looking to that day when they will all be perfectly fulfilled. How might the Holy Spirit be inviting you to inhabit Advent joy this season? What song of praise is God inviting you to sing?
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