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Saturday, December 5, 2015

Today’s Reading | Luke 1:26–38

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” 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. (NRSV)

In most situations, a parent is excited about the approaching birth of a child. Not so in this Bible story, at least not initially. Mary was troubled by the news. It is just like God to startle us with a grand announcement when we least expect it. Usually the surprise comes when things are routine and relatively constant. Believer, beware—God is full of surprises!

The angel broke the news that Mary would have a baby. A precious little baby conceived by the Holy Spirit. The child is holy, righteous, the very son of God and no human father. Imagine Mary’s amazement.

The expectant mother had difficulty understanding the proclamation. She responds, “How can this be?” How often does God surprise us with an unexpected miracle, such as a financial blessing or healing from an illness? In contrast, God may call us to an extraordinary duty that takes us well beyond our place of comfort. In these times of amazement we learn to trust while the glory of God is revealed.

There are times in life when we don’t understand what God is doing. Although Mary was troubled by the encounter, she responded in faith. Mary demonstrates what the appropriate response should be: “I am the Lord’s servant; may your word be fulfilled. “ Because of her obedience the world was transformed.

Expect God to surprise you with a call. Usually an appeal will come when you least expect it. Has God spoken to you recently? Listen carefully for the voice of God and respond with the same level of trust and obedience Mary displayed so that you can help reform this world.

God, help us to remember that nothing is impossible with you. Grant us listening ears and accepting hearts so that we understand what you require of us. Provide your holy power so that we, like Mary, will be obedient and faithful. Help us to be effective agents of change here on earth. Amen.

Written by Robert Crouch, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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