Advent Week Four | Love | Big Faith
Rest: [Take a few moments of silence. Then slowly pray these words.]
Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Read: [Meditate on the scripture of the week.]
2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16 | Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26 | Romans 16:25-27 | Luke 1:26-38
Reflect: [Use this devotional thought for a moment of reflection. Today’s devotional is written by Chris Diaz.]
I want to focus specifically today on that last verse in Luke’s story.
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. Luke 1:38
I have to wonder if those were the words Mary really spoke. I’d be surprised if she got out more than stutter. I don’t know about you, but if an angel of the Lord came to me one night, bathed in light, and asked me to have his child, I might need to change my sheets. I love the implied, unwritten gap here. An angel comes to Mary, a 12-14 year old girl, and quite literally flips her world on its head, and then leaves. What happens in this gap? What thoughts are rushing through Mary’s head? Luke’s account reads as though Mary is some stoic figure, sitting in her bed, calm and unflustered, and answers with a deadpan straight face. I have to imagine that Mary had some form of fear or doubt.
We’ve heard this story many times, but do we ever really sit and think about it. What if a 14 year old unmarried girl somehow got pregnant today; a “good, Christian girl”? She would be an outcast; I don’t think we’d even take the time to listen to her story, no matter how miraculous it may be. She would be shunned by everyone; she would be a disappointment. People would quietly judge her as she walked by. She wouldn’t be welcome anywhere.
I think Mary knew this when she accepted God’s request, yet she still accepted. I think she knew that what God was asking would put her at odds with every person in her life, but she still accepted. In Mary’s time, having a child out of wedlock could mean death by stoning, yet she still accepted.
When I think of that kind of faith, faith where you say yes to God even if it might mean the collapse of everything around you – it gives me cold sweats. I don’t know if I would have the strength in that situation. I don’t know if I could muster the courage to follow God down that path.
I came across a blog post by Rick Morley, and I’ll end with what he had to say about Mary’s response:
“Mary, in the annunciation, becomes the patroness, of all who are called by God to do impossible things. Of those who become embarrassments to their family and communities on behalf of God. She reminds us that the godly thing isn’t always the prim-and-proper thing. Sometimes when we answer God’s call, we become a laughingstock or, even worse, persecuted.
Mary, in the annunciation, becomes the patroness of all who dare say “yes” to God. Or, manage to mumble a tentative “…ok…”
In this scene where the divine comes crashing into the earth, Mary becomes our example, that in the ways of God we might become like her…if we have the guts.”
Respond: [Put your prayer into action throughout the day.]
Family Experience: As a family, read the story of Mary and Joseph. Talk about the courage and faith that they showed to trust in God’s promise, marry, travel to Bethlehem, and later move to Egypt. Talk about other heroes of the bible (Abraham, Moses, David, Ruth, Peter, etc.) and their extra-ordinary faith in fearful situations. If you have children, ask them about what faith really means, and listen carefully to their response. Children are often our best teachers when it comes to bold, daring faith.