Once again, the college has asked members of our campus community to write devotionals for each day of the Advent season. The format is simple — an assigned reading from Scripture, followed by a few thoughts and a prayer. Here’s my contribution for this year, and if you’re interested in reading others, you can find them here.
Advent Devotional for 4 December 18
Luke 1: 26-38 (KJV)
26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.
38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
Miracles are unlikely things that happen in unlikely places – the unlikeliness, even the impossibility, is what makes them miraculous, after all. And certainly, God’s decision to come to us as one of us seems unlikely indeed. But when the angel Gabriel approaches a young woman and informs her that she will be the mother, the caregiver of God in His Incarnation as Jesus, Mary’s response is simple and straightforward: “I am the Lord’s handmaid. Let this happen as you have said.”
I think there may be at least two lessons in today’s reading. The first one is that miracles may happen even as we mind our own business and go through our daily lives. They may not always be announced by angels, but we may notice them if we accept that they can happen.
The other lesson comes from Mary’s response. Presented with miracles – the Virgin Birth to come and the Son of God she is to deliver – she accepts the Will of God. It’s too easy for us to think that we’re in control, that we know what can and what must happen, that our world is limited by what we can perceive and explain. Mary is wiser than that. Let us learn from that, and be willing to accept God’s will for us, even as a young woman did two millennia ago.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the miracles around us, whether they are as striking as a sunrise or as tiny as a baby born in a small town. Grant us the vision to note them and the wisdom to accept them. In the Name of Your Son, Amen.