Scott Sanders launches our Advent series by getting lost in the bush and finding the humble path - at expense of his pride.
Liz Milani is the co-founder and author at pktfuel.com where she writes about life and spirituality.
Today's reading is Luke 1:26-38
By the time the angel appeared to Mary, fear was a resident of every home in Israel. The Jewish people had lived in Advent - the great waiting - for more years than not. Waiting for the Saviour who would restore Shalom; peace. For Mary, perhaps the reason why she was filled with fear when she saw the Angel was that strangers in your home rarely meant tidings of comfort and joy. Her neighbours, family, and friends, would have been the carriers of stories about what had happened in their homes when strangers from Rome came to town. When we sing Christmas carols, watch Christmas movies, and write Christmas cards, we don’t have in mind the turbulent and violent time the story of Christmas was birthed within. The Israelites were (once more) prisoners in their own country, ruled by a ruthless military superpower, taxed within an inch of their lives, hemmed in on every side.
Mary had much to fear, too. Falling pregnant out of wedlock, Joseph had every right (culturally) to reject Mary, and her family had every right (culturally) to evict her from the home. Mary had few legal rights herself. In Ancient Israel, unmarried pregnant women often became slaves, exiles, sex workers, or lived on the streets. If Joseph and Mary’s family weren’t willing to stand by her, she stood to lose everything, even her baby.
“Do not yield to your fear.“
Mary was afraid, and her fear was valid. There is fear, and there is the yielding to it; allowing it to control your perspective, biases, and decisions.
Mary had some questions: What? Where? When? How?
And the Angel told her that she would be overshadowed by Divine power and glory. I don’t think the promise was just about how she would fall pregnant: I think the Angel ministered to her fear, transcended it with glory, and responded with the promise of the already ever accessible presence of God. God comes close. God is present with us and to us in all that we face, including fear.
Perhaps that’s how we should respond to our fear, and the fears of others: transcendence, love, and presence. Because if we can be present with our fear, and to the fears of others, maybe there really is no place that God can’t be found.
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The Birth of Jesus Foretold
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, favoured 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 favour 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.