Monday 20 December 2010

Bible Book:

"And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also concieved a son, and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God." (v. 37)

Luke 1:26-38 Monday 20 December 2010


Like the doorway of a medieval church (such as this one picturedat San Juan de Ortega in Spain), this week the lectionary paintsthe picture of the whole birth narrative in very small space.Fifteen months of mystery and anxiety are compressed into oneaction-packed week of visitations from angels, miraculous births,visits to cousins in the country, treks to ancestral homes andpoetic utterances of praise. 

Like Joseph (in yesterday's reading), Mary is visited by anangel. Both accounts suggest that it is a fearful thing to bevisited by a messenger of God (the literal meaning of the word'angel'). But as Joseph was told not to be afraid, so Mary too isreassured (v. 30). And there are parallels too, with other visitsfrom angels and other miraculous births: the sixth month (v. 26) isthe sixth month of Elizabeth's carrying John the Baptist. LikeSarah, visited by the three strangers in the tent under the oaktrees of Mamre (Genesis 18), Zechariah has laughed at thethought of his wife, an old and barren woman, giving birth. Mary,here, presented with this news, is incredulous: "How can this be?"she says (v. 34). The answer is that "nothing will be impossiblewith God" (v. 37). 

The echoes in the story are not coincidences. How ever difficult itmay be for us to entertain a connection between fertility and God'sgrace (and how ever much those who are infertile may experience asense of loss and shame) the story of God's dealings with humanbeings is full of God removing seemingly immovable obstacles inorder to rescue us from ourselves. So Sarah's age is no barrier tomaking descendents of Abraham, and Mary's virginity is no barrierto the Scripture being fulfilled (Isaiah11) that salvation shall come from the House of David (vv. 27,32). 

The implication is not so much that barrenness is disgrace whichGod chooses either to fix or not, but that in seeking and savingthe beloved lost human race, God will stop at nothing. God willeven find a way to offer the world God's very self in flesh andblood (v. 35). 

To Ponder

In your experience how might this passage soundto those struggling with infertility?

In your own life how have you held together thestatement, 'nothing is impossible with God' together withunanswered prayers?

What experiences have given you a sense of theGod who stops at nothing to seek you out and communicate to youthat you are beloved?

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