December 10, 2017

Advent 2017

"I Am Willing" 


Mary said to the angel, "How will this happen? I have never had a man." The angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come on you. The power of the Most High will cover you. The holy Child you give birth to will be called the Son of God." (Luke 1:34-35) 

When I was young, I knew and understood that the angel had come to Mary and that Mary had been nervous or upset or dubious. In my head, I pictured a young woman in her early twenties demurring at the thought of God blessing her in such a way and maybe a little nervous about becoming a mother. Now, I see in my mind a child of thirteen or fourteen filled with abject terror. In that time and place, it would have been common and acceptable for her to have been stoned to death as an adulteress. The passage doesn't speak of Mary's parents or what they did or said upon finding Mary's condition. It can only be assumed that they believed Joseph to be the father because he carried on their betrothal. 

As if the fear of being labeled as an adulteress weren't enough, Mary knew the prophecies of the Messiah from the Old Testament. She knew that even if she were allowed to live, the child she bore would be destined to die. Even if he died as a sacrifice for the ages to save humankind, that's scant comfort when you know that you must watch your son, whom you love more than your own life, suffer and die. 

The fear that Mary must have felt in that moment and the time between when the angel arrived and when Joseph married her is most likely incomprehensible for the majority of people, but still she offered herself, saying, "I am willing to be used of the Lord. Let it happen to me as you have said." (Luke 1:38) Ambrose Redmoon said, "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear." Sometimes we do things that frighten us or push us even to the point of terror because something of great worth is the consequence of the action. At times, the very act of living and breathing is the most frightening thing in the world. But we go on because there is a reward at the end. 

 -- Lane McCulley

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