Reader: “The Annunciation.”
Response: “God is conceived in his earthly mother!”
Scripture: Luke 1:26-38
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”
Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”
Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”
The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. For the word of God will never fail.”
Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
With the birth of Zechariah and Elizabeth’s baby boy, I’m sure they were wondering what’s next? And for six months nothing happened. In fact, Elizabeth went into seclusion. I’m sure she appreciated being out of the limelight and hearing all the gossip. Can you imagine the talk if a 75 year old woman got pregnant with an 80 year old husband now? They’d be on 60 Minutes! Seclusion makes perfect sense. Then the same angel, Gabriel, visited the teen-age girl, Mary. In those days it was common for girls to marry in their mid-teens. Also, “engaged” in that culture would have the same understanding as “married” does today. The normal practice was for the bridegroom to take a year to prepare their home. Then he would come to get his bride and take her to their new home and the marriage would then be consummated. Hence, Mary’s comment that she was a virgin, and wondered how she would become pregnant. Luke makes a point of saying that Joseph is of the lineage of King David, the tribe of Judah, the tribe of the Messiah. Any number of scholars hold that the genealogy in Luke 3 is actually Mary’s genealogy and that Heli is her father and Joseph’s father-in-law resulting in both Mary and Joseph being of the royal tribe of Judah and descendants of King David. Notice the difference in the responses of Zechariah and Mary to the angel Gabriel. Zechariah’s words were, “How can I be sure this will happen?” i.e. I have doubts it will occur. Now let’s look at Mary’s situation. Note Gabriel told Mary she would conceive, give birth to a son and name him Jesus. He would be called the Son of the Most High and he would have an eternal throne. He would be the eternal king in the line of David. (As a young Jewish girl, Mary would have known all about King David.) He would reign over Israel forever! That is a lot of information for a teenage girl to absorb!! Mary’s response was, “How can this happen?” i.e. I don’t doubt it, but since I’m a virgin, how is it that I’ll become pregnant? Gabriel answered plain and simple. You will become pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit. Your baby will be holy, the Son of God. Deity. Then the angel gives Mary a kind of reassuring touch, letting her know she is not alone in these miraculous happenings. Her cousin, Elizabeth was six months along in her pregnancy. It is quite possible Mary didn’t know about Elizabeth, since Nazareth was about 80 miles from the Jerusalem region where Elizabeth lived. With all this information from Gabriel, Mary gave a remarkably mature answer for a young girl. “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” Within a few days Mary took off to visit Elizabeth. Mary also probably needed some time away from home and news undoubtedly would have spread. “Did you hear? That young girl, Mary, the one engaged to the carpenter, is already pregnant!! Oops!” But, Mary and Elizabeth had three months together as the Forerunner of the Messiah and the Son of God grew in their mothers’ wombs. The mother of God was truly a remarkable young woman!
Music: “Silent Night”
Sissel Kyrkjebϴ This Norwegian lady has one of the most beautiful soprano voices you will ever hear. Effortless!
Bonus: “Silent Night” Libera -Exquisite Boy Choir The Brits know how to do Christmas!!! Don’t miss this either!
Holy Father in heaven, Gabriel said nothing is impossible with you. Young Mary believed him and all of creation was eternally changed. Grant that I may be as trusting, simple, and transparent as was Mary. She continues to give us a picture of uncomplicated obedience and complete childlike trust in you. She ultimately suffered greatly as she stood at the cross watching her Son die for those he created. Thank you for her glorious example and for choosing her to be the earthly mother of your Son in whose name we pray. Amen. ―Daniel Sharp