20 December 2013

Luke 1:26-38

"Let it be to me according to your word." (v. 38)


This is the annunciation to Mary, and Mary's response. A mysterious visitor tells Mary of an almost immediate pregnancy. Clearly the workings of heaven did not attach much weight to the idea that marriage and pregnancy should occur in a particular sequence! I'm not married yet? Can this be right?

The actual announcement to Mary is low-key, matter-of-fact, almost 'played-down' and reassuring. But there is an unmistakable hint of  wonder. It is not just that Mary will become pregnant: the message is that the coming child will be quite out of the ordinary. He will have a prominent place in the story of God's people, in line with his ancestor David. What is to happen to this young woman is amazing enough on the human plane, but this announcement represents the intersection of earth and heaven.

In one sense this passage is not about waiting at all, though later at the end of chapter two we shall read of two other characters for whom it was indeed the culmination of a lifetime's eager expectation (Luke 2:22-38). What comes to us as a shock may come to others as the fulfilment of a sharply-defined hope.

To Ponder

  • When life takes you by surprise, either with joy or with shock, how does your faith in God support you?
  • Recall to mind any experiences in which, for you, brings together earth and heaven. How could you explain such an experience to someone else?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr John Ogden

John Ogden spent most of his life (he is now in his late 60s) teaching Computer Science in the universities of Glasgow and Reading. A local preacher since 1964, he served the Reading and Silchester Circuit as a circuit steward in the 1980s, then candidated for (non-stipendiary) ministry.