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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Today’s Scripture 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)

What comes to mind during Advent when there is mention of the Annunciation? One of the many depictions, such as Raphael’s fresco in Florence or El Greco’s in Madrid? A poor teenage girl experiencing a scary vision? A physiological implausibility? The wonder of a miracle?

In this short passage, Luke (a physician, who knew how babies were made) provides some strong tenets of the Christian faith. Unlike miracle-birth stories of other religions and philosophies, what we have here is a basis for a profound fundamental of Christianity: belief in the humanity of Jesus Christ, one who also is the long-awaited Messiah.

We find an innocent and ordinary girl stunned and perplexed by the revelation that she was to give birth to the Son of the Most High. In answer to Mary’s “but how could this be,” however, the visiting angel reassures her that the Holy Spirit will be with her and protect her. Thus Mary has sufficient faith to obey this calling, and we have the stunning reassurance that Christians since continue to invoke in times of turmoil: “For nothing is impossible with God.”

So we pause to reflect on the conundrum of the humanity and divinity of Jesus. We are reminded of the care and presence of the Holy Spirit. We are humbled by Mary’s obedience. We rejoice that even when times are tough or confusing “Nothing is impossible with God.”

Dear God, when next I’m confronted with doubt or confusion, help me to remember the simple but profound truths of the Annunciation: obedience, belief, presence of the Holy Spirit, and that so many things are possible with you. Amen.

Written by Rebecca Dixon, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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