Today I preached the report from Luke’s Gospel, regarding the angel Gabriel and his announcement to young Mary. Mary was a very young person, in reality just a girl. I have read that she was anywhere from 11-14 years of age. With most believing her to be around 12 years of age. She was betrothed or engaged. Yet it was a much stronger and binding situation than our modern idea of engagement. Though they were not to have sexual relations it was a legal relationship. To end the engagement or betrothment one had to have a certificate of divorce. When the angel said to Mary “you are blessed and highly favored” she wondered about that. How could a simple girl from a simple village be blessed and highly favored? God does the choosing! Many of us wonder how God would want to be involved with us? We are not special and we live and exist in a not very special place as well. God has always done His best work with ordinary, plain people. Mary’s acceptance of the message of the Lord, in essence, placed her life in danger. She could be publicly humiliated and embarrassed. She could even be put to death by stoning. Her family could disown her and she would be open to ridicule and scorn. Mary did not waver in her faith. If this is the Lord’s will “be it to me as you have spoken.” Now, that is a picture of faith. Regardless of the cost, the Lord’s will nothing more and nothing less, and nothing else. She did not try to examine the situation for an escape clause, she accepted God’s will for her life. She did as the old hymn suggested:
You have longed for sweet peace,
And for faith to increase,
And have earnestly, fervently prayed;
But you cannot have rest,
Or be perfectly blest,
Until all on the altar is laid.
Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?
Your heart does the Spirit control?
You can only be blest,
And have peace and sweet rest,
As you yield Him your body and soul.
Is this our prayer?
Mary asks the angel a very good question: “How can this be?” I have never been with a man so how is it possible for me to be pregnant. He tells her that the Holy Spirit will overshadow her and she will be with child. Then he gives her the promise that is not only for her but for all who follow the Lord. “All things are possible with God.”
I know we declare this but do we really believe it for our lives? Do we really believe that whatever He asks of us today that He will help us, for in all reality there is nothing too hard for God?
What assignment might God have for us today? Are you willing to accept His will for your life no matter how uncomfortable it might make you? Would you go where He sends you? Would you do what He asks you? We usually answer these questions in the abstract, yet the Lord is asking you in the here and now.
It is good to look at the Christmas story with fresh eyes. We become so accustomed to hearing the story that it has in a sense lost its impact in our lives. I pray that this season we will see it with new eyes and hear it with fresh ears. May we again stand and marvel at the grace and mercy of God. God loves us so much that He sent His Son born of a virgin. Who was both divine and human while He walked among us, since we could not save ourselves, God has sent to us a Savior Christ the Lord. He came to be our sin offering. We could not reform ourselves, we could not buy our way out of sin. We needed someone to come and be our sin offering. So, He who knew no sin became our sacrifice that we might be set free and live
This is the message of Advent!