Luke 1: 26-38
This is a sign for you: you will find a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger. (Luke 2:12)
The Gospels contain six accounts of angels saying, “Do not be afraid.” The frequency with which angels spoke this reassurance makes one wonder why it was necessary. Were angels terrifying to behold, such that their appearance required reassurance? Or did the appearance of an angel usually signify such an important pronouncement, and possibly a life altering event, that their presence automatically elicited a response of fear?
For Mary, her encounter with the angel Gabriel certainly qualified as a life-changing event. Life as she knew it was about to change dramatically. Had she known how much, she might have been even more afraid.
Mary was a young girl, probably 12 or 13 years old, the age at which girls were married during Bible times. Mary was not a queen or a princess but simply a young girl engaged to be married to a carpenter. Mary lived in a small town, Nazareth in Galilee, which the Old Testament does not mention. She was an ordinary girl in an insignificant town until the angel’s visit.
The angel told Mary that she had found favor with God. Many assume that those who are blessed by God will enjoy wealth and good health. Mary’s blessing, however, was that she was to have a child out of wedlock. Mary’s response of “How can this be?” seems appropriate and believable. The angel assured her that it was true and the baby was God’s Son. God was at work among ordinary people, choosing to send Jesus as a message of God’s love, in an unexpected and unconventional way.
As we continue through Advent, we prepare once again to celebrate God’s unconventional message of love. Sometimes in the busyness of the season, it’s possible to become overwhelmed. Take a moment to slow down and say a prayer of thanks to God for the message of love sent long ago and the many messages of love God continues to send us, sometimes in unexpected ways.
Jesus is God’s gift to all people.
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