Start with Posture of Silence and Solitude (2 minutes)
Read Scripture: Luke 1:39-56
At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”
Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
I love the thoughts about this passage from Scot Erickson’s book, Honest Advent. Although we may not really know what Mary was thinking after this visitation, he lays out what we might be thinking as we see the humility of a 14 year old girl.
He says: “I presume most of us would invite a divine annunciation. To have some otherworldly being deliver a message from the Almighty sounds like everything we’ve been hoping for. How often do we anguish over life decisions and direction, and how incredible would it be to receive a definitive answer from God. It would be the story you would tell over and over again how you were sitting in the drive thru line at Starbucks and suddenly a divine voice spoke and laid out the glorious plan for your life. Or one night you had a fantastically vivid dream and when you awakened, you knew with certainty what the next steps were. Or you were saved from a raging flood and as an angel miraculously lifted you out of the waters, you’d do the thing you’ve been afraid of doing for years.
It would be awesome to have this kind of story but I think if this actually happened to some of us, we’d be afraid of that kind of revelation. Great stories come at a cost and the cost of revelation is that it’s going to ask something of us. In the divine annunciation, you receive a gift but you also receive notice that all you had planned is ending. It’s all over. Everything will change-most of all you. And maybe the change is a maybe thing. Maybe you would think, God, I could use a change, and maybe you’re ready for transformation. But the rub of revelation is that it’s a transformation you’re not in charge of. We all have areas where we would love transformation. Maybe for you it’s a relationship or a job, or unceasing anxiety. But it seems that revelation doesn’t transform the places you want to transform; it transforms all the things you dreamed and planned for your best case scenario.
It’s not hard to see that Mary needed to What would your life look like? Whom would you marry? Where would you live? What your wedding would be like. Your kid’s first name. How people would think about you. How your kid’s lives would turn out. Your best-laid plans.
Revelation is a hard gift to receive. You must give up everything else to receive it- like finding a treasure in a field and selling everything you have so you can get that treasure. But then again, she who is willing to accept the cost of revelation finds herself in the deepest of stories. Stories that are so mysterious, divine, and human that we still tell them today.
Questions to Ponder:
Has God ever surprised you with some divine truth you didn’t expect? How did you receive it?
God. I am amazed at the way in which you speak to me with truth and grace. And how your kindness to me is always present even when I have said “no” or “not yet” or “not me” when you have revealed yourself. Be patient with me; push me when I need a push; show me what you see in me so that I might heed the direction you have for my life. Amen.
End with Posture of Silence and Solitude (2 minutes)