Nativity Set, Up River, Belvidere, NC

Advent: Considering Mary

We have entered the season of Advent. Advent means the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. I believe this definition brings clarification to the season because we set our focus on the person of the Messiah, the beginning of a new thing God is doing in the history of humanity, and the event of Messiah’s appearance on the world stage.

Matthew, the Jewish apostle, tells, “18 This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18, NLT). Luke, the Gentile historian, goes into greater detail, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.33 And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.

38 Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her” (Luke 1:26b — 35 & 38, NLT).

In the first part of this advent celebration I want to consider Mary. Mary plays a vital role in the birth of The Christ — Jesus. Her life demonstrates some excellent characteristics and traits from which we can benefit.

First, she listens. She might not understand; she might even be a little frightened, but she does not dismiss the communication of God. Mary listens and hears the will of God as communicated by the angel.

Second, she questions. Not, in a way that doubts God’s ability, no, she questions in a way that assures she does not mess-up His will. Her question is how can I give birth to The Christ because I have never been sexually intimate with a man. Too many times in Scripture we read about people questioning God’s ability. Perhaps, even in our lives, we question how God will accomplish something. We should be more like Mary; our questioning God should look like: how can I do what You are asking — what are the steps You desire me to follow?

Third, her willingness. Her reply is, I am God’s servant, I will submit to His will. Mary lived in a time, where being pregnant outside the bounds of marriage could cost her very life. What Mary was saying, I will do God’s will, even if it cost me my life.

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