Sunday 18 December 2011

Bible Book:

"Then Mary said, 'Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.'" (v. 38a)

Luke 1:26-38 Sunday 18 December 2011


For many of us, it is hard to read these words without havingthem filtered by childhood and more recent memories of nativityplays with angels hovering beneath wobbly tinsel halos. Here, atthe beginning of Luke's account of the story of Jesus, he providesa unique account not present in the other Gospels, of an appearanceof the angel Gabriel to Mary, telling her that she will becomepregnant and give birth to the Son of God.

Mary, understandably, is "much perplexed" (v. 29) by the angel'sarrival and questions the very possibility of the events that theangel has foretold (verse 34). The angel justifies what seemsimprobable by giving Mary new information that her childless andelderly relative Elizabeth is already six months pregnant (verse36). Gabriel has already been busy with Zechariah and Elizabeth inthe passage preceding this one (Luke1:5-25). "For nothing will be impossible with God," the angelassures Mary (v. 37).

Amidst this great drama, with angelic special effects, Mary'sresponse is striking in its simplicity: "Here am I, the servant ofthe Lord; let it be with me according to your word". Thoughprobably no older than a young teenager, Mary has quickly come toterms with Gabriel's message, following her initial confusion andquestioning. More than that, she shows remarkable courage, faithand obedience. She takes the step of trusting what Gabriel tellsher, and is immediately resolute in being ready to play her part inthis divine plan. Whatever follows - and as readers we know muchthat is painful to this mother will follow - Mary is ready to liveout the role God has given her. Take a look at her great speechlater in the chapter (verses46-55), which has become known as the 'Magnificat', to get astill clearer sense of Mary's clarity of vision.

To Ponder

How might you have responded to an angeldelivering a similar shock to you?

When have you witnessed examples of trust andfaithful action, such as Mary shows here? What happened?

Have you ever seen a nativity play where Mary isportrayed as a person of real courage and faith, as this passagesuggests? If so, what was it like and what effect did it have onyou? If not, how might a nativity play present Mary as having realcourage and faith?

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