Monday 04 April 2016

Bible Book:

“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth ... 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.” (vv. 26, 38)

Luke 1:26-38 Monday 4 April 2016

Psalm: Psalm 40


I can never read this passage without thinking of helicopters! Iknow that sounds strange but a hymn by Thomas Troeger (it didn'tmake it intoSinging the Faith, but I wish it had) begins, "Startledby a holy humming drumming in her heart and ear". I imagine thethrob of rotor blades. Troeger continues, "Mary heard an angelcoming, Gabriel was drawing near". I love the rhythm of the words.It catches my imagination. Angels and imagination seem to gotogether, as so many Victorian paintings can testify. But thatleads us away from, rather than to, the core to this passage. Atleast Troeger gives us a different image, brings us up short. Andthis passage should startle.

To begin with angels, biblically, are simply messengers. Perhapsthe idea of them coming from God, causes us to adorn them withwings. I figure that we are reading a story of something recountedmuch later, of Mary having been visited by someone - perhapsdreamt, in imagination, or actual - who spoke words she believed tobe of God. That earths the story. We can read how it unfolds. It isnot the angel that should startle but Mary's response - CharlesWesley echoes it, "Behold the servant of the Lord, I wait thy guidingeye to feel".

There are two responses to this.

Firstly, that of amazement, that a young girl should be willingto respond so absolutely, again as Wesley put it "mold as thou wiltthy passive clay" - this sense of total submission to God'swill.

The second response is abhorrence. A colleague viewed that senseof passivity in a very negative light and I can see her point. Thisstory, in a world where women are abused by men, where this readinghas a woman becoming passive at male 'hands', for God is perceivedas male, is at the least unhelpful. The story is more down to earththan we sometimes make it. It is also a product of its time. Tounderstand it we need to take that into account.

To Ponder

  • How have you sensed God speaking to you?
  • Can you make sense of this passage in a way which would affirmsomeone who had been abused? How might this be?
Previous Page Sunday 03 April 2016
Next Page Tuesday 05 April 2016