Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Angel's Message for Mary

(If you haven't read the Echoes December 2 post, please scroll down and read it first.)
Thank you, Marcia Carole for your lovely rendering of this event.
Identity Leading to Courage

Luke 1:26-38, The Message Translation

In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin's name, Mary. Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her:

     Good morning!
     You're beautiful with God's beauty,
     Beautiful inside and out!
     God be with you.

She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that. But the angel assured her, "Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.

     He will be great,
          be called 'Son of the Highest."
     The Lord will give him 
          the throne of his father David;
     He will rule Jacob''s house forever -
          no end, ever, to his kingdom."

Mary said to the angel, "But how? I've never slept with a man."
The angel answered,

     The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
          the power of the Highest hover over you;
     Therefore, the child you bring to birth
          will be called Holy, Son of God.

"And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren, and here she is six months' pregnant! Nothing, you see, is impossible with God."
And Mary said,

     Yes, I see it all now:
          I'm the Lord's maid, ready to serve.
     Let it be with me
           just as you say.

Then the angel left her.

With your translation of choice open to this passage, allow these questions to set a tone for your Advent. We'd love to hear what you are hearing in these timeless words.

What surprises you about this passage?
If this is all you know about Mary, how would you describe her?
     How do you see her humanity?
     What do you appreciate about her character? Why?

"O favored one, the Lord is with you!" (v.28) What a wonderful affirmation.
     What kinds of things may have been swirling in Mary's head hearing these words?
          If you heard these words, what might you be thinking?         
     What security does this affirmation offer? 
     The Lord is with us today as well. If I trust this, how would it change
          how I view my circumstances?

What surprises have you received from" God?
     How have you responded when the surprises have the potential of shame?

"Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God." (v. 30)
     "Favor" is sometimes translated "grace". Having just celebrated Thanksgiving and now looking
     toward Christmas, list some ways you have found favor with God, and thank Him for each

Think about "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" (v. 34) 
     Do you sense God nudging you to believe something "new" or "big"?
     Might your response be, "How will this be, since ____________?"

"Behold, I am the servant of the Lord;" (v. 38) 
     Mary allowed her identity to provide her with courage to respond, 
          "Let it be to me ..."
     What words do you use to describe your identity as a believer?
          How will your identity provide you with courage in this next week?

You might want to write out a conversation with God over what you are hearing from Him.

And if you're willing to share, we'll all be blessed. And we'd be honored to pray for you.

Next Thursday, Matthew 1:18-25.


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