Daily Prayer Guide: Tuesday Dec 22

Scripture Reading

Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth,  to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.  And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”  But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.   The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.  He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”  Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”  The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.  And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren.  For nothing will be impossible with God.”  Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Mary was a young Jewish teenager. While the angel’s announcement to her was certainly one of great hope for her people, it was for her a pronouncement of personal disaster. Here she was, engaged but unmarried, about to turn up pregnant by someone other than Joseph. Her excuse? “I’m pregnant by the power of God’s Spirit.” Right. Try that one on your parents and friends. As the angel speaks of a coming royal deliverer, I can imagine her mind is full of vision of her ruined social life. She’ll be misunderstood by family. Shunned by friends. Ostracized by village neighbors.

And that’s only the beginning. What else is in store for her? Well, for starters her son is going to grow up and become a source of deep division within her people, and within her own heart (see Luke 2:33-35). She will at one point think that her son has lost his mind (see Mark 3:21), and will have to endure his public execution by the Romans (see John 19:25). I cannot imagine this was the kind of life she ever dreamed of.

It is really quite amazing, then, that she responds to the angel’s announcement the way she does. Her first question involves the mechanics of “spontaneous pregnancy”: “How can this be? I haven’t slept with a man?” After a quick theological lesson in divine in vitro, her next response is jarring. “I’m your servant. Let it happen according your plan.” Woah. I’m certain I would not have answered in this way. But this young, imperiled teenager shows humility and openness to God’s plan, regardless of the great personal cost involved. I can only hope to imitate her exemplary hope and humility when my own life falls apart. The things this young teenage girl has to teach us are profound and challenging.

Reflect:

– Think through the social stigma Mary would face in an ancient, patriarchal, traditional culture when her pregnancy was made public. Think about the humility it took to respond to God’s plan the way she did. How would you have responded if you were in her place?

Prayer:

– How do you respond when life throws a major curveball your way? What is the most recent, unexpected upsetting of your life? How have you wrestled with God about it? Allow yourself to go there now.

– What would it look like for you to come to peace with God’s ways in your life? Ask God for perspective and hope in the midst of your circumstances.

Written by Tim Mackie

Click Here to Download Week 4 Prayer Guide: Sun Dec 20-Fri Dec 25

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