Once again we find ourselves in the season of Advent with Christmas racing towards us. As we have been looking afresh at the events leading up to the birth that changed history, as recorded in Luke’s Gospel, I have been struck once more by the way in which Mary responded to what the angel had to say to her. The significance and impact of what she was being told would no doubt have been traumatic for a young teenage girl in her circumstances.
With seemingly little time to reflect and fully comprehend what had been pronounced by the angel, Mary’s response is remarkable. Mary didn’t ask for time to consider it further or to pray about it or to seek counsel over it. Mary’s response revealed something of her relationship with God in that she recognised that the message was from God and therefore submission to His will was non-negotiable.
Others may have tried to ignore it, or tried to pass it off as if it hadn’t taken place, or even run away. Not Mary! Her words ring out down through the ages as a challenge to all; ‘I am the Lord's servant. May everything you have said about me come true’ (Luke 1:38). Like all of us Mary had free will, and she exercised it and chose the right path, the one which fulfilled her destiny. I’m so glad she did, aren’t you?
God knew Mary’s heart and I believe that is why He was able to give her the awesome responsibility of bearing His Son, our Saviour, to bring Him into the world, nurturing and caring for Him until such time He began to fulfil His destiny.
Challenges for us from this story surely centre around a) the condition of our hearts – Can God trust us to fulfil His purposes in our lives whatever the cost? b) Our relationship with Him- Do we easily recognise Him when He speaks and c) Our response to Him- is it like Mary's ? – ‘I am the Lord’s servant.’
Perhaps our prayer should be in the words of Charles Wesley who in the hymn ‘O for a heart to praise my God’ writes:
A heart resigned, submissive, meek,
My great Redeemer’s throne
Where only Christ is heard to speak,
Where Jesus reigns alone:
A humble, lowly, contrite heart,
Believing, true and clean;
Which neither life nor death can part
From Him that dwells within:
A heart in every thought renewed,
And full of love divine;
Perfect, and right, and pure, and good,
A copy, Lord of Thine.
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