Thoughts on Luke 1:26-38 (the Annunciation)
Such a familiar passage, can you make it new/fresh for me in some way?
Here’s what I get. God’s word to Mary through Gabriel was that she was favored; meaning she was sought by grace, surrounded by God’s approval and showered with God’s blessings. Such news disturbed her, it unsettled her, she needed to get her mind around it. Our gracious God gives her reassurance, “it’s ok to not quite get it; trust my words; you are my favored one.” She had some questions about her identity and role and brought them to the interaction allowing God to unfold the details about who she is and how she will be used for the sake of the Kingdom.
Totally relatable! Like Mary, I’ve been given words from God that are hard for me to take in and believe. God calls me beloved, precious, loved, valuable, and my mind says, “What? How can this be? I’m still stuck in the muck of sin habits.” Thank goodness, God is not surprised by my questioning of God’s appraisal of me. Mary’s encounter with the messenger of God gives us hope and a path to follow.
1. Put yourself in a place where you can hear God’s message. Mary lived in a particular place at a particular time and was engaged to a particular man. She was being herself, living the life she had been given. Not lofty, not flashy, just ordinary. God comes in the regular routine of your extraordinary life. Look for him, listen for him. He speaks your name in the doing of chores, faithful one; the chirping of birds, attentive one; the teaching of children, one after my heart. Train yourself to hear the quiet greeting of God’s heart of love for you.
2. Gather the names God gives you. As you read the scriptures, pay attention to the words of affirmation and affection God offers. It’s easy sometimes to identify with the warnings and the admonishments God speaks, we know how deserving we are of his correction. But there are probably just as many words of affirmation as there are judgment. (I’ve never actually done a comparative study, but I bet someone has!) Read through Zephaniah 3 for example, daughter, delightful, rejoiced over, praised, honored, gathered; or Hosea 14, loved freely, splendorous, beautiful. Don’t be afraid to claim the love of God, even if it seems hard to believe.
3. Admit the ways it seems impossible for such names to be your reality. Mary had no husband, I have no perfection. And yet God says with him, all is possible. God announces my belovedness. I counter with the ways I am not worthy of being loved; I’m impatient, often grumpy when I don’t get my way, ready to point out other’s faults, how can such a sour, selfish person be lovable? Bringing these traits into the light, admitting them is the beginning of the transformation. It reminds me that love is based on love, not performance.
4. Let love woo you to want to be more beloved than broken. Face the direction of God’s love and walk toward it. Focus on God’s delight, God’s choosing, let your heart want to not let anything rule your mind but God’s truth. Trust in God’s word’s and action more than your own experience of yourself. I really screwed up that interaction with my husband, I’m embarrassed and ashamed. I should hide myself. God says,“you are accepted, sin has broken you, come into to the light and let me cleanse and restore you to my picture of you: beautiful and valued.” Breathe. Remember it is a process, a journey, each faithful step takes you closer to your kingdom reality.
5. Act like the person God sees in you. Mary called herself the handmaiden of the Lord, call yourself God’s beloved daughter. How would a beloved daughter act? She would trust her parents to care for her in every way, so why worry? Why be greedy? Why be jealous? When you forget who you are, look in the mirror God provides, wash off the smudge of sin you see, adjust your crown and walk with the dignity of a child of the King. Thank you and amen.
With you on the journey,