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. 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.
Luke 1:35, 38
I got a Christmas card from a cousin the other day and my cousin had written a note inside which said, “A little gift is on its way.” That is the message of the angel to Mary. In fact, it is the message Elizabeth and Zechariah got about John, and it’s the message Mary and Joseph got about Jesus.
When the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. In the New Living Translation, we are told that Mary was ‘confused and disturbed’. All the angel had to do was say ‘Hi’ and Mary was perplexed. I can totally understand. So would I have been confused, and disturbed about what it could mean. Mary was very much like you and me. She was a girl, just becoming a woman who learned that God specializes in surprise packages, by coming to us in unlikely places and speaking to us through unlikely voices. Yet at the end of the angel’s visit, Mary declared that she was a willing servant of the Lord and would do whatever God asked of her.
It dawned on me that Mary was the first bearer of the ‘body and blood’ of our Lord. The blessed virgin Mary then was the first human who could say of Jesus, “This is my body, this is my blood.” We might even say she was the first minister of the sacrament of the real presence of Christ. But what is so important to each of us is that she was willing to serve in the role God gave her, to bear the Son of God in the flesh. This is a lesson of hope and grace for every human being.
Hope propelled an angel to visit Mary and offer her an outlandish invitation. Hope enabled Mary to say ‘yes’ to God. Hope inspired her to sing of the restoring of the world like it had already happened. Hope inspires us to accept the gift of God’s Son to our world. It is hope that comes to us to receive Jesus Christ into our hearts.
It is God’s grace that brought this message to Mary and to the world. Because of grace God offers his love and acceptance to forgive our sins. It is because of grace we have found favor with God just as God found favor with Mary. God’s grace has been so freely poured out for each of us even though it is not deserved. Our life of faith is all about grace, and hope.
Isn’t it wonderful that something so undeserved, and yet so freely poured out for each of us is given in God’s grace? May we each say with Mary today “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” The biggest little gift has already arrived. Jesus has come, and we can celebrate his coming again.
- How are you listening to God’s voice and calling you to be and do what God wants you to be and do?
- How are you responding to God’s voice calling you to be and do what God wants you to be and do?
Sue is NLS Spiritual Director, since 2019 and is a retired Lutheran Pastor (ELCA). Active in VdC since 1995, she has served two terms on the Board of the Texas VdC Secretariat, and also on the Texas Gulf Coast VdC Board as Spiritual Director since its start-up in 2017.