“I Am the LORD’s Servant!”

26Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee named Nazareth, 27to a virgin who was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28And when he had arrived he said, “Greetings, favored woman! God is with you!” 29At this word she was troubled and wondered about this sort of greeting. 30And the angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. For you have found favor with God. 31Now look! You will become pregnant and will give birth to a son, and will call his name Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father. 33And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever and his kingdom won’t have an end.” 34But Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen, since I have never had sexual relations with a man?” 35And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the highest will overshadow you. That’s why the son to whom you will give birth will be called Son of God. 36And Elizabeth your kinswoman, who was called barren, is also six months pregnant with a boy in her old age, 37because nothing is impossible for God.” 38Then Mary said, “Alright! I’m the Lord’s servant! Let what you have said happen to me.” And the angel left her.     Luke 1:26-38 (HN)

– Henry Neufeld

Now what one usually expects a Christian writer to do at this point is to talk about the virgin birth and what that means in Christian doctrine. But what I want to do instead is talk about people and how they react to new revelations of God’s will and his word. Let’s just think about the process here.

1.    An angel comes with a revelation. Matthew doesn’t mention an angel’s name, nor a specific appearance to Mary. I believe that Luke does so to try to emphasize the importance of the message and the shock that Mary must have felt at his appearance. Sometimes we can get a much better idea of what a gospel author is trying to emphasize by comparing details like this between the stories in each gospel.
2.    Mary is surprised when she is greeted as an important person. This is a common reaction to a divine messenger in the Bible. Mary can’t imagine that she is that important. This is a good thing to consider as you face the day and your work. You may not receive your work from an angel. You may not receive it from somebody important. But you may see a challenge that requires your response. Will the challenge trouble you, or will you be ready to face it?

3.    The angel tells Mary not to be afraid. No matter what the challenge or where it comes from, fear isn’t going to help. Fear isn’t going to do anything for you. The first thing to do is to overcome your fear. “Fear not!” is a good message for life.

4.    Mary is told that she is more important than she thinks. You too, may be more important than you think. No, I’m not talking to the arrogant folks and those with big heads. I’m talking to the people who are slogging through their days doing the things that are set before you. You’re more important than you think. There are no unimportant jobs; there are just people who insist on doing them as though they are unimportant.

5.    Mary finds out that she is not really going to be the central character. Sometimes we think that the only way we can be important is to be front and center, to be the person that everyone is talking about. But Mary finds out that she will be important because of her son. Sometimes our important work is simply to make it possible for someone else to do something. Perhaps others will get most of the credit. But just because you’re not in public getting the praise doesn’t mean that you’re not an important person.

6.    Mary wonders how it’s all possible. The answer to this is simple. God’s power is going to come over her. Now we often think of God’s power as earthshaking or always miraculous. But God’s power is at work in your body and in your mind as long as you can breathe and you can think. It’s all possible because the power of God is on you–not in causing daily virgin births, but in making it possible for you to fulfill your calls and tasks.

7.    Mary comes to acceptance. Let it happen! When you have realized who you are, when you have heard the task, when you realize what a wonderful creation you are and that God’s power works in you, you can say, “Bring it on! I’m ready for the call!”

How about facing this week with the words of Mary: “Alright! I’m the Lord’s servant! Let what you have said happen to me.”

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