Gospel of Luke 1:26-38
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”35 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. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 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.
The passage may seem familiar. But for a moment, pause and take up the invitation to be part of Mary’s story. Her role in the story is the very essence of the Christmas story. It is all about Jesus. This young, teenage girl is the conduit by which Jesus, the focus of the story, enters the world. Her faith in God is radical, vibrant, and fully committed as she is the first disciple of Jesus Christ. It is not the part that Mary, you, or me play in the story; it is God acting in, with, through, and for us.
I’m messing around here a bit, but what if the passage sounded more like this: (PK’s version)
So, in the middle of the day, after weeks of wearing a mask, staying away from friends, trying to keep the kids from going outside, and helping them to do homework while I’m keeping my job – or missing my grandchildren and friends, feeling overwhelmed with loneliness, and trying to make sense out of technology, and simply tired of having to adapt, to recreate myself…I’m exhausted and yet, I trust in the promise of God. I am truly thankful and I’m holding on to the faith I have in God who promises to dwell with me…so I rest and, in my rest, I hear God speak my name "(put your name here)". An angel appears.
Gabe says to me – “Greetings, (put your name here), faithful one! Don’t be afraid. God is with you always. Now, the Lord has a plan to share the Good News with people who are longing to experience the joy of being loved by God and forgiven forever. The Lord has a plan to put you in the midst of a Jesus mission to tell others how Jesus came into the world to save us from our mess and restore a relationship with God and with one another. The Lord our God has a plan to bring peace to all the world. (Put your name here), God has picked you. Are you in?”
In shock, we say, “Wait, how can this be? Who am I to be asked to do something so amazing?”
Gabe speaks again and says, “You’ve got this. After all, the Holy Spirit is with you! The Savior is for you! And our Creator has picked you to share the Good News! Hear this message and put it on your mirror when you wake up and encounter the day and put this message of hope in your heart. All things are possible with God ." (Luke 1:37)
Our response…breathe in and breathe out – shoulders up and shoulders down…
“Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”
Hold that thought for a moment…
As we close the 2020 year, we collectively have shared a common story about a world-wide encounter with a virus and soon to be vaccine. The story literally took our breath away. Our collective discussion on safety measures has been on-going and exhausting as well as diligent and thought-provoking.
I, personally, refuse to kick 2020 out the door. Too many amazing things also happened in 2020, such as the hope of vaccines! Yes, some really hard and still harder yet challenges have hit you, me, and us. But can we say that 2020 was more challenging than the year that a young teenager was pregnant with the Son of God?
I’m not putting us up against this story, but inviting us to be in the story…with our own voice, our own joys, sorrows, and challenges. And hear the most amazing message of all…
The angel says to us, "You’ve got this…after all, all things are possible with God."
What will 2021 have in store for us? We have been invited into the story of all times, to open our arms, and to welcome a Mary-size response to have faith in God that is radical, vibrant, and fully committed as disciples of Jesus Christ.
People are longing to know. Will we be ready not to brand things as “re” anything? No, not go back, but instead boldly look ahead on how we, as disciples of Christ, welcome all God’s children, grow together, and serve with joyful hearts in the name of the one who loves us first and always, Jesus Christ.