Advent 4: Mary the mother of Jesus - The Candle of Joy
God coming to a simple girl and giving her a chance to participate in the divine advent.
Luke 1:26-28; 46-55
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end."
Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin ?" The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. "And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age ; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. "For nothing will be impossible with God." And Mary said, "Behold, the servant servantsof the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.
And Mary said: "My soul exalts the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His servant; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name. AND HIS MERCY IS UPON GENERATION AFTER GENERATION TOWARD THOSE WHO FEAR HIM. He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, And has exalted those who were humble. HE HAS FILLED THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS; And sent away the rich empty-handed. He has given help to Israel His servant, In remembrance of His mercy, As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and his descendants forever."
God providing for her needs and covering any potential shame by speaking also to Joseph telling him to take Mary home as his wife.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife ; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. "She will bear a Son ; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL," which translated means, "GOD WITH US." And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son ; and he called His name Jesus.
God bringing shepherds to honor the new king of the universe and cause wonder to abide in the heart of that simple girl as she raised the Messiah, the Lamb of God, the Great and conquering King, her son, God’s son, Jesus.
In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased." When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us."
So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.
Our first response to God at work is fear. Always. God is so much bigger than we are, so much more powerful, like Aslan in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe we recognize in our core that God is not safe, but if we know him we know that he is good. But until we really know God all we see is his power and we can doubt his love and goodness. And we are not alone.
Looking through the ages at those who have encountered God we see time after time fainting, falling down, overwhelming fear. It is what Mary felt when the angel came to her to declare God’s plan for her life. Make no mistake, this was not God’s plan for her next year or for the raising of a child over 18 years, this was a plan that would affect the rest of her life. This one moment would dominate her thoughts and meditations as long as she lived.
God’s love was coming into her life, and it would change it forever. But God never comes to give us only a task, only a burden to carry or a load to bear. God comes into our lives bringing joy with the assignment, bringing strength for the journey, bringing himself to be our companion on the way.
When God's Love comes into our lives, we can say "yes" to what it brings, knowing that He has prepared the way before us and will provide the way ahead of us, and trusting that his intention is always for our good; to fill our lives with joy.