During Advent, we are featuring devotionals written by clergy of the Greater NJ Annual Conference of the UMC. For this third week, we are focused on reflections related to Mary, based on the Gospel of Luke.
26 When Elizabeth was six months pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a city in Galilee, 27 to a virgin who was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David’s house. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 When the angel came to her, he said, “Rejoice, favored one! The Lord is with you!” 29 She was confused by these words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. God is honoring you. 31 Look! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and he will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father. 33 He will rule over Jacob’s house forever, and there will be no end to his kingdom.”
34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen since I haven’t had sexual relations with a man?”
35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come over you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the one who is to be born will be holy. He will be called God’s Son. 36 Look, even in her old age, your relative Elizabeth has conceived a son. This woman who was labeled ‘unable to conceive’ is now six months pregnant. 37 Nothing is impossible for God.”
38 Then Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be with me just as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
The encounter between Mary and Gabriel is central to our understanding of Mary. The holy/human conversation, the gravity of the request, the seeming steadiness with which she is portrayed, it all shapes how we think of Mary. When we want to express the often challenging, always humbling nature of our own experiences of being called to serve God, we may turn to this image of a girl greeted by an angel, being offered a pivotal role in the story of salvation.
I wonder how Mary would share this scene from her life?
Would she tell of this encounter as a story of invitation?
A story of surrender?
A story of empowerment?
Certainly there are countless lenses through which she might view this moment in her life’s journey, as there are innumerable ways in which we can frame our own responses to God’s call and claim.
Today, consider your journey of serving God:
- If you were to tell your story as a story of invitation, what would you share?
- If you were to tell your story as a story of surrender, what would it include?
- If you were to tell your story as a story of empowerment, what would it hold?
by the Rev. Shawn Callender Hogan
For Pondering & Prayer
Prayer: Today, let us pray with Mary: “Here I am, let it be with me according to your word.” Amen.