There's nobody quite like Mary in the Bible. When an angel came she accepted the new plan God offered for her life and for ours.
Luke tells us of a her meeting with an angel.
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. Luke 1:26-29 NRSVMary's response to the angel was all her own. She was quiet. Luke says she was “perplexed” and that she “pondered”. Rather than reacting Luke tells us Mary took in the angel's words. She listened to hear what this great visitor would say next. There's so much that perplexes us. So many people and situations that we can't wrap our heads around. For Mary the words of the angel didn't lead to a snap reaction. No she took time listening and thinking. There's so much that can be wondered about in this story. And for me her silent contemplation stands out. Maybe you've learned the hard way that it's dangerous to rush to a snap judgement. Maybe you've learned like me that it's unwise to talk without thinking first. And Mary's silence was golden. She listened to the messengers words.
The angel said to 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.” Luke 1:30-33 NRSVI don't think Mary planned on being the mother of God's Son. Her plan, it seems, was different. The flow of her life was going to be very normal and predictable. But everything changed for her and for us when Gabriel came to visit that one day. Gabriel had big news. He came to announce God's plan. Remember Mary's plan was to
Have a family
in that order.
But Luke says the plan the angel Gabriel had to share was so different. She was going to have this child of promise in a new and unique way. She was going to have this child through the work of the Holy Spirit. Oh Mary is rightly described as the person who carried Jesus, in her own body, into our world. But from my reading of the scripture it clearly wasn't her initial plan.
People can only begin to imagine all the emotions running through Mary as she met with this angel. Confusion, doubt, and more. As I tried to imagine Mary's emotions I find that I'm caught more and more by Mary's response than what I imagine her feeling to be in her meeting with Gabriel.
Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” Luke 1:34 NRSVMary wasn't telling the angel no. She wasn't asking why me? She wasn't telling the angel to go and bother somebody else. Instead she asked a question. How can this be? There's something about Mary's question that leaves lots of space for doubt and for faith. And here's the place where we often meet God. It's in moments when we don't expect God to be there that God often shows up. It's in the moments when we know only by faith and not by what our ears hear or what our eyes see that God is at work.
The angel said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you. For this reason the baby will be holy and will be called the Son of God. Now Elizabeth, your relative, is also pregnant with a son though she is very old. Everyone thought she could not have a baby, but she has been pregnant for six months. God can do anything!” Luke 1:35-37 NCVThe angel had good news for her and for us. Here's the promise of God to us in our doubts, our fears, our confusion. God can do anything. That's right. Listen to the angel. Nothing is impossible for the one who made the heavens and the earth. Nothing can keep God's love from impacting your life. God is coming into our world and into our lives in Jesus. And nothing--not the conditions of your heart, your sins, your shames nothing can stop Jesus from coming in to dwell as God with us as God for us.
Mary what will you say to the angel? Will you be open will you tell him to buzz off. Oh Mary will you be open to this son who will one day die to set all people free? Mary will you open up your life of see God at work?
Mary said, “I am the servant of the Lord. Let this happen to me as you say!” Then the angel went away. Luke 1:38 NCVMary spoke words of trust and hope. She knew that God could act. She was open to the plan. And for her open spirit I give thanks today. AMEN.
Peace and thanks for reading. John.