Thursday, December 19, 2013

Advent, Luke 1:26-38

Impossible Things, Part II 
Luke 1:26-38

We are called to focus on and believe in the impossible, when we believe in Christ and the events surrounding His first coming. The story here in Luke covers the facts, but between the lines we read the glorious news of God’s redemption, and the power of His love for us. It is His love that raises a humble girl, Mary, and an elderly woman, Elizabeth, into pivotal roles through which come both the Messiah and one in the spirit and power of Elijah. It is His love for us that sent Gabriel on this holy mission to tell a virgin that the Messiah is coming, and through her.

I am always amazed and humbled by Mary’s reaction to the angel Gabriel’s news. There was a profound work of grace in Mary’s life, and it is especially evident here in Luke. In these short twelve verses, we hear of an astounding, impossible work that God is setting into motion. And Mary, a young woman, still an innocent, accepts this plan by openly and trustingly giving of herself. I couldn’t imagine a more beautiful picture of the Church’s trust, as a bride, in the love of the Bridegroom. 

Mary’s trust and acceptance provides quite a contrast to Zachariah’s disbelief in the previous verses. While this woman-child was shocked and bemused at first, wondering how all of this could come to pass, she quickly responded with a servant-hearted attitude. In fact, the term she used for servant was also used for slave, but truly meant a lifetime commitment. Little did she know that she was emulating the Son of God and Man, for even He came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).

Nought, nought, dear Lord, could move Thee
    To leave Thy rightful place
Save love, for which I love Thee;
    A love that could embrace
A world where sorrow dwelleth,
    Which sin and suffering fill,
More than the tongue e'er telleth;—
    Yet Thou couldst love it still!

(Ah! Lord, How Shall I Meet Thee; An Advent Hymn by Paul Gerhardt, 1653)

As we celebrate Christ’s birth, let us, with Mary’s childlike faith, rest in the promises that He has made, and the plan that He has for our lives. Let us love one another, and through the impossible, precious love of Christ, bind ourselves more closely with His identity. For our Lord said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). 

Let us echo Mary, when God’s prophecy over us seems strange or impossible, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). And before the pace of this Christmas season distracts you from Him, bring these things to mind, for He who testifies says “Surely, I am coming soon”, and our response should rightly be: “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelations 22:20).

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