Archive for July 11th, 2007

Christmas in July

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

Today’s scripture: Luke 1:26-55 (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider these questions: What might God be saying to me in this passage? What jumps out at me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two before reading on.

My thoughts on this passage (Deb Doty):

It may seem a little strange to be reading the “prelude” to the Christmas story in July. But I love this Scripture passage, not because it’s part of the Christmas story, but because it’s a passage that speaks powerfully to me many days of the year.

You see, my spouse, Jenni, and I love to listen to music as we slip off to sleep, and many nights we listen to John Michael Talbot, a wonderfully talented vocalist and guitarist who happens to be a Franciscan monk. One of his works puts Mary’s song, the Magnificat, to music. And it is her song that has become one of my favorite Scriptures.

Sometimes it’s hard to peel away the layers of our religious upbringing to see Mary clearly. But whatever you may think about her, you have to admit she was an amazing person whose character shines brightly in today’s Scripture.

The angel Gabriel shows up and tells her she has found favor with God. She is “much perplexed” by his greeting, and he has to tell her not to be afraid. (No kidding! I would’ve passed out cold at the sight of an archangel!) She has heard stories about angels appearing to people. But they surely never appeared to teenaged girls! So, she is perplexed, unable to understand what’s happening, afraid, and she asks, “How can this happen? I’m just a good unmarried Jewish girl. How can I have a baby?”

But Gabriel doesn’t miss a beat. “Don’t worry! God will take of everything. Mary, your relative, Elizabeth, is six months pregnant, and everybody knows she was barren. Nothing is impossible for God!”

Does Gabriel go off on this tangent about Elizabeth just to make polite small talk? I don’t think so. I think Mary needs the reassurance — some “proof” that things will be OK. (I can’t criticize her for that. If I’d been in her sandals, I would’ve thought, “God, if this is how you show your favor, well, thanks, but no thanks.”)

As soon as she hears Gabriel’s reassurance, she says, “Here I am, God’s servant. So be it.” And Gabriel leaves.

Then Mary goes to visit Elizabeth, and she sees the impossible made possible. She sees a very pregnant old woman, and Mary begins to sing: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name….”

The Mighty One has done great things for me? Wait! Is she holding Jesus in her arms? No. And yet she speaks as if it’s a done deal.

And that’s where Mary and I so often part company in our spiritual journeys.

I know what it’s like not to understand — just like Mary.
I know what it’s like to be afraid — just like Mary.
I know what it’s like to question — just like Mary.
I know what it’s like to need assurance — just like Mary.
I even know what it’s like to be willing — just like Mary.
But I don’t always have the faith Mary did.

Do you?

Do we really believe God looks with favor on our lowliness?
Can we believe God will give what God has promised?
Do we really believe God is merciful toward us — even us?
Do we believe God will fill us when we hunger?
Can we rejoice in the Lord before we hold the promise in our arms?

For the Mighty One has done great things for me…. Oh, God, let me sing Mary’s song with faith!

Thought for the day: Has the Mighty One done great things for you? Like Mary, let our spirits rejoice in God our Savior — even in July, even before we hold the promise in our arms.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to start, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
Be still and know… is proudly powered by WordPress.