Reflection from Midweek Advent Communion Service—December 12, 2018
God is at work in the barren places – that was the thrust of our thoughts last week as we read of Zechariah in the temple, learning that he and his wife, an old man and an old woman, would give birth to a son they were to name John.
This week’s reading includes the proclamation of another strange birth. Strange not because the young woman is unable to have a child but shouldn’t be having a child because she’s not fully betrothed and strange because there is no earthly father.
In other words, it will be another miracle birth but this one will not come without the hint of scandal.
To add to the scene we learn the young maiden lives in Nazareth. Recalling the incident in John 1 we get a glimpse of Nazareth’s reputation.
The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”
Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.
“Come and see,” said Philip.
Apparently, Nazareth wasn’t anything special and one shouldn’t expect much of anything to come from there. But as we noted Sunday, God works in remote places and in obscure places. He chooses the meek and the weak to do the mighty and the miraculous
So lowly Mary in lowly Nazareth gets a messenger from God himself when Gabriel shows up and disrupts any plans Mary might’ve had for herself.
Obviously, much could and has been said about this passage but in this Advent week of peace we pause to hear the words of the messenger Gabriel.
“Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.
But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.
In the midst of an unplanned pregnancy and in rough and tumble Nazareth… in the midst of “What are people going to say?” circumstances… in the midst of an “I’m not ready for this” kind of situation… in the midst of “What will Joseph think?” worries… come words of reassurance.
Do not be afraid… you have found favor with God.
Mary and Gabriel, of course, continue the conversation and she gets further explanation about what’s going to happen. As the conversation winds down we get a glimpse into Mary’s faith: “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.”
We are reminded that peace is not so much determined by our circumstance as it is by our faith in God’s providence, knowing and trusting that we belong to God and that he works all things for the good of those who love him.
This afternoon… let us take a few minutes to meditate on peace.
- And as you do, ponder your own circumstances… and entrust them to the Lord.
- And think of others you know who are struggling with peace… and lift them in prayer to the Lord as well.