This moment is one in all of history that holds my heart captive. The scene of young innocence standing before the Angel Gabriel with arms humbly open to receive the greatest gift.
Oh, the weight of this moment.
The angel went to her and said, “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. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God. Luke 1:28-35
After the angel left and the normalcy of her day returned I wonder what she did next. Did she collapse on the floor in desperate prayer? Did she sit in frozen awe as the enormity of the word settled around her? Was she stunned that she, of all women ever, was chosen for this place in history?
I have always put Mary in the group of superheroes. She is deemed immortal and in that, I think I mistake her testimony as untouchable. She must have carried a mark that said she was doing something perfect. Perhaps she was utterly beautiful, not in her physique but in the appearance of her heart before the Lord. To be chosen for this place in the Kingdom story she must have done something to deserve it, right?
Liz says on the bottom of page 43 “Mary, I suspect, was rather plain in appearance. Certainly in her dress and speech, perhaps also in her face and figure, she was unremarkable.”
That pulls her from super celebrity status to my level ground. Unremarkable, kind of like me.
Liz goes on to say, “God didn’t choose Mary because she was unique. Mary was unique because God chose her.” “What made Mary worthy of her calling was not her virtue. It was God’s virtue.”
Oh, the grace of this moment.
Mary knew there was no way she alone could be worthy of this, there was nothing she’d done or anything she could do that earned her this honor. This honor prophesied about centuries before and dreamt about by all young women. Her only expectation was the last words Gabriel said to her:
“For no word from God will ever fail.” Luke 1:37
The wonder of this moment is not in the humanity but the miraculous. Mary, in all her ordinary life, responded with worship to an extraordinary God.
She responded with a simple sacrifice of worship, regardless of the fear and uncertainty the circumstances beckoned. She answered the angel with a heart of service and an attitude of surrender.
“May your word to me be fulfilled.” Luke 1:38
Oh, the wonder.
“Mary carried Jesus in her body. By the same Holy Spirit, we carry the risen Lord in our hearts.”*
Let the breath of Heaven fill your soul afresh with hope, with life. Give Him room.
(This post is part of a series we are doing this Advent. We are beholding afresh the wonder of this season through Liz Curtis Higgs’ book: Women of Christmas) Catch up here on the Introduction or Chap. 1, or Chap. 2.
* Liz Curtis Higgs (pg. 54)