Sunday, October 9, 2016

Spiritual Sunday: Called

Today in my scripture study, I came across a very interesting exchange in Luke 1:26-38. 

26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
 28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed artthou among women.
 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throneof his father David:
 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
 34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
 35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
 36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
 37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.
 38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
Gabriel's first statement:
  • Thou art highly favored of the Lord.
  • The Lord is with thee.
  • Thou art blessed among women.
Mary's first response to the angel:
  • I think it is best described as gawking and totally unsure how to respond. To be fair, it seems seeing an angel is actually pretty shocking, given other experiences recorded in scripture. So she waits instead of reacting.
Gabriel's second statement:
  • Do not be afraid.
  • You have found favor with the Lord.
  • You will conceive and bare a son named Jesus.
  • He shall be great.
  • He will be the son of the Highest.
  • He shall be King and have the throne of King David.
  • He shall rule over the House of Jacob forever.
  • His kingdom shall never end.
Mary's second response to the angel is very telling:
  • I don't understand how this will happen. I am a virgin. 
I don't think her response is doubtful or skeptical. It sounds like she is trying to understand.

Gabriel's third and final statement:
  • You will conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost and the power of God.
  • Your child will be the Son of God.
  • Your cousin Elisabeth is six months pregnant. You know she is old and has been barren her whole life.
  • With God, nothing is impossible.
Mary's final statement:
  • Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
  • Be it unto me as thou has said.
She accepts with faith the will of the Lord and proclaims her willingness to be a vessel for the Lord's work.

The angel used the example of her cousin's unexpected and unannounced pregnancy to show Mary that all things are possible. Elisabeth is also there to give comfort and strength to Mary as she embarks on this very difficult responsibility that few will understand or even accept. 

To me, Mary emulates a Christ-like pattern in her responses to this interaction with Gabriel.

1) She listens to the messenger of the Lord.
2) She asks clarifying questions to understand.
3) She proclaims her willingness to accept and then acts.

What are your thoughts about this interaction in Luke? What lessons do you take from it? 


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