Before Jesus’ birth, the angels appeared to some shepherds on the hillside outside Bethlehem. They came announcing good news of peace and renewal – tidings of comfort and joy.
We asked 25 people to prepare a meditation for us to read and listen to every day through Advent. We are delighted to share their work with you.
God bless you as you read, listen and pray.
Luke 1: 26 – 38
26 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 favoured! 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 favour 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 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.
So the angel Gabriel visited Mary and we learn how God chose to come to earth and be born as a baby. God’s plan is to save the world through His son, Jesus.
Luke refers to Mary as a virgin three times in this passage – emphasising the miraculous conception. Jesus, as God’s son, was fully divine and born without sin. He was also fully human, born to Mary, and He understands our experiences and struggles.
Mary was a teenager of humble origin, yet God chose her to carry His son in her womb, to love and nurture Jesus.
God could have come to this world in any way – that he chose a woman to be part of His plan, shows the depth of His love for women.
On finding out that she was to conceive God’s son, Mary didn’t panic, run away or challenge the news, she asked a very sensible question, ‘How will this be?’ And she accepted the unique answer she was given.
In Mary’s response “I am the Lord’s servant… May your word to me be fulfilled’, we see the incredible woman she was. She didn’t know what lay ahead, she had a lot to lose. Would people believe the baby she carried was the promised one? Would Joseph end their relationship? She risked bringing shame on her family and being ostracized in society – even being stoned to death for adultery, because an engagement then was binding.
Mary could have said, it’s not great timing now, or choose someone else. But she didn’t think of herself, she trusted God’s plan and promise. She took a risk and was strong and courageous. Her response was decisive and active. She had a choice and she put her hope in her son, the saviour of the world.
God didn’t leave Mary alone, he gave her Joseph and Elizabeth to verify her story.
Mary is the greatest and most influential woman in history, but when she placed her faith in God she was just a humble girl who didn’t know the outcome of her story. She risked everything to fulfil the call of God.
May we all become more like Mary – willing to listen to God, be faithful, show courage, actively respond and take a risk, stepping into the unknown. If we do, God will be with us, just as he was with Mary.