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Hail, Mary!

by davesandel on December 20th, 2012

Hail, Mary!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Third Week of Advent

Luke 1:26-37

The angel Gabriel came to Mary and said, “Hail, full of grace!  The Lord is with thee.”  She was greatly troubled, and the angel said, “Do not be afraid, Mary.  You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”  

Mary said, “How can this be?”  And Gabriel said, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  Your cousin Elizabeth has also conceived a son.  Nothing will be impossible for God.” And Mary said, “May it be unto me as you have said.”  Then Gabriel left her.

Of course Mary couldn’t wait to visit Elizabeth, and within three months, she did.  When Elizabeth heard Mary’s voice, Elizabeth’s baby leaped in her womb.  Her words echo down through the centuries, “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.”  Jesus.

Gabriel’s announcements to Zechariah and Mary are God’s words to a man and woman both humbled by the circumstances of their lives.  Jews in Palestine lived under Roman ruie and longed for freedom.  They were poor.  They had rarely felt God’s presence in 400 years, and it seemed they were alone.

This is about to change!  The internal exile and separation imposed on them from both within and without is nearly over.  When John the Baptist blows his shofar, and when the dove descends on Jesus, and when John recognizes the dove and Jesus for who they are, God’s grace and love will pour like honey on anyone and everyone who wants to bask in its sticky wonder.

Not everyone does.  In the dust of separation and exile, we are pretty good at picking ourselves up and making things work as best we can ourselves.  So were the Jews, especially the leaders.  What does God do in that case?  He shakes the dust off his sandals and heads to the next town.

In this third week of Advent, the darkness is actually growing.  In the dead of night, which seems to last forever, everything is silent.  But as the angel speaks, and I listen, it is time to throw off my own machinations, and suddenly, finally, once-and-for-all, return to following God instead of making my own way.

This is your earth, Lord – everything in it, and all who live in it.  You founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.  Who may ascend the hill of the Lord?  Who may stand in his holy place?  He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.  May we be that people, Lord.

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