Monday, December 6, 2010

The Advent - Mary's Angel

Luke 1:26 - 38  "In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”  34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[b] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”  38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her."

An angel appears to Mary and tells her she is favored and will have a son.  I wonder if this was the same angel that appeared to Joseph or a completely different angel.  The Bible doesn't say.  Regardless, this angel had important news to share with a frightened girl who was wholly submitted to God.

The angel tells Mary she is highly favored by God.  She has been chosen.  She will have a child though she has never known a man.  Even her cousin Elizabeth is going to have a child in her old age.  And Mary, even though I'm sure she had doubt and fear, accepts what the angel tells her.

The angel has the privilege of telling Mary she is favored.  Favored by God.  Chosen by God.  Have you ever been told you were favored?  When I was growing up, I was the chubby kid who always got picked last to play games.  I wasn't popular.  I had braces and glasses and acne.  I had no idea what it meant to be favored.  Until I allowed God to show me that I truly was favored.  I believe that God favors all His children.  I believe He has a purpose for each of our lives.  I work with adults with intellectual disabilities and with children affected/infected with HIV/AIDS, and I see every day how God's plan for our lives, for their lives is played out.  Whether they know it or not, they each touch my life every day with their smiles, hugs and unconditional love.  Each of them, each of us is special to God.  Favored.  And each of us have been give this life to live.  No matter who you are or what you do, God has a plan for you.  Not all of us are called to be a Mother Theresa or a Billy Graham.  But we are called.  Called to help the elderly lady at the grocery store put her groceries in her car.  Called to feed the hungry.  Called to send a note of encouragement to a friend who's down.  Called to care for the sick.  Called to do our best each day with what we've been given.  And just as Mary accepted the call on her life, we should accept the call placed on our matter how big or small.

God may not send angels to us, although the Bible does say to be careful because we may entertain angels unaware.  But most of us will never experience a visit from an angel the way Mary or Joseph did.  However, God does call us.  In the face of a child who needs a coat for winter.  In the sound of a woman crying over her loss.  In the words of a man who has done all he can for his family but it's still not enough.  In the halls of hospitals, in the classrooms of schools, in the pews of churches, in the office cubicle next door.  God calls.  Calls us to share.  Calls us to love without judgement.  Calls us to show compassion.  Calls us to be His hands and feet in this world.  He doesn't always call us to do what is easy or comfortable.  Sometimes He calls us to step beyond that ease and comfort.  But He always gives us what we need to answer the call.

What if Mary had not accepted the call?  Said it was too hard, too scary?  What if she said she wasn't able or didn't have the skills or just didn't feel like it?  She would have missed out on a blessing.  We would have missed out on eternal life.  You never know the impact and result your obedience to God may have on the life of another.  We may never know this side of Heaven what comes from our obedience.  But God knows.  And trust me, even the smallest thing you do for another is noticed.  Noticed by God.  And definitely noticed by the ones we serve.  

Will you, like Mary, accept the call?  Will you, like Mary, utter the words, "I am the Lord's servant.  May your word to me be fulfilled."?  This Christmas take that step of faith and answer the call of God.  

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