Note: This series is based on the book Not a Silent Night: Mary Looks Back to Bethlehem, by the Rev. Adam Hamilton.
This Sunday is the last Sunday before Christmas Eve. Our previous messages and scriptures have been focused on Jesus through the eyes of Mary. But this week we look at Mary herself and may come to a sense of wonder about the pressures on a teenage girl facing a monumental and even life-threatening circumstance. In the face of frightening and supernatural events, Mary responds in a way that seems well beyond her years. In doing so, Mary’s grace helps her to take in the enormity of what she is being told: the child you bear will be the “Son of the Most High.”
Luke 1:26-33 (CEB)
26When Elizabeth was six months pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a city in Galilee, 27to a virgin who was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David’s house. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28When the angel came to her, he said, “Rejoice, favored one! The Lord is with you!” 29She was confused by these words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. God is honoring you. 31Look! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32He 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. 33He will rule over Jacob’s house forever, and there will be no end to his kingdom.”
Consider these questions:
- Mary’s initial response strikes me as one of curiosity, followed by incredible faith. She asks how God will do what is being promised, and then responds in accepting the unbelievable thing she has been told. Have you ever faced unbelievable news? Did you believe it? How did you respond?
- Have you ever been spiritually moved in a way that you found unexpected or – more to the point – unbelievable? What happened? What did you do about it? Has this happened for you more than once?
- What do you think this was like for Mary? Consider the socio-economic and cultural context for her and explore for yourself or in conversation with others what this must have been like. Imagine the conversations she may have had, the emotions she may have gone through.