Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Advent: Day Three

Today's reading  in the Advent Bible Study is Luke 1:26-38

Having had the Christmas story read to me every Christmas since I can remember, I think sometimes I am almost too familiar with this passage of Scripture, so I'm going to look at it as if I've never really seen it before.  Here's the story:

1)  The angel, Gabriel, comes and greets Mary
2)  Mary is surprised by this visit
3)  The angel explains that Mary is going to have a son who will receive the throne of his father David (meaning his ancestor, king David)
4)  Mary questions this because she is a virgin
5)  The angel says that her child will be the son of God.  The angel also tells Mary that her relative Elizabeth has conceived a child "in her old age"
6)  Mary accepts this news and the angel departs

This is crazy.

First of all, let's remember that angels are probably (because no one really knows) not sweet-looking blonde children with wings.  This is a male angel. He is probably tall and commanding.  I wouldn't be surprised if he is clothed like a warrior.  My Bible says Mary "was greatly troubled."  I believe I would be too.

Now, it's worth noting that this account (the only account of this particular event that I could find) is written by someone who was not there, so of course he doesn't included details like how Mary or the angel acted.  He only includes what they said to each other.  We don't really know what kind of expression was on Mary's face or what the angel was doing while he spoke to her.

But are those things really important?
It's clear from the angel's words to Mary and Mary's words to the angel that each of them are willing to do whatever is required of them by the Lord.  Talk about selfless devotion.
Mary is about to go through the worst ordeal of her life (thus far, at least).  She is going to be pregnant without being married, something that was punishable by stoning in those days, if I'm not confused.  All she says in response to that is "Behold I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."
And the angel.  He's telling this young girl that she's about to be going through this.  He just says to her what the Lord has given to him to say.  Now, I know angels may not feel emotions (we don't know much at all about them), but in the scripture, it says they rejoice at times, so I'd imagine this angel could understand that Mary might be fearful of what he's telling her.  He doesn't sugar-coat it, though.  he just tells her what the Lord has sent him to say.

I can only hope and pray that, one day, if the Lord sends me on an errand anywhere near what either of these two were sent on, I could do it without questioning the Lord's methods or trying to rearrange it to make it seem more palatable to anyone.

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