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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, December 21, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Luke 1:26–38

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 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. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 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. 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. For nothing will be impossible with God.” 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. (NRSV)

“Do not be afraid,” the angel says to Mary. In this time of darkness, the angel informs Mary that God has chosen her. God has chosen a young woman to do the impossible. She is a virgin, a life unlived—on the precipice of being lived—engaged to an upstanding man, Joseph, and this choice could jeopardize all that she has. Mary could have said no.

“Do not be afraid.” Mary’s acceptance of God’s choice in her is what makes her holy. This belief in this literally inconceivable virgin birth is part of what makes us Christians. We believe the impossible.

The idea that all of us are Godly, all of us are human. We realize that God chose a young woman. God chose to become one of us. God who could choose to be anyone, anything, chose to be like us. To join us humanly and humbly to experience the vulnerabilities of life—to grow up. Mary could have said no.

“Do not be afraid,” the angel tells Mary, “You have found favor with God.” God is growing within you. What if we are Mary? What if this is a parable about how God chooses us to have Christ grow inside all of us?

What if God is one within us, becoming one with us? This year I will be like Mary. I will accept God’s choice in me.

“May everything you have said about me come true” (Luke 1:38). And then the angel left her.

Dear God, help me not be afraid. This year I will be like Mary. I will accept your choice in me. Amen.

Written by Jessica Wang, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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