December 2, 2020
Then Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be with me just as you have said.”
Then the angel left her.
+ Luke 1:38
The angel Gabriel just gave Mary some major news. Even though she was a virgin betrothed to Joseph, she was going to give birth to a son. Not just a son, but God’s son, whose kingdom will have no end. It is incredible news, that sounds impossible. Yet the angel reminds her, “Nothing is impossible for God.” Mary’s response is simple. She accepts and consents saying, “Let it be so.” I imagine at this time, hope blooms brightly in Mary’s heart. She has just encountered an angel of the Lord.
She has not only received news of her pregnancy, but her relative Elizabeth’s as well. Without the modern conveniences of text or skype, Mary had no way to verify that Elizabeth was with child. So, she hurried to Elizabeth’s house to see for herself. She knew that God could do amazing things, but still, it seems, she needed to check. I imagine Mary’s mind is racing every step of the journey. I imagine her heart bursting with hope that it is indeed all true. What a joy it must have been to be received so excitedly by Elizabeth who somehow knows about Mary’s recent news! There must have been concerns about giving birth and parenting the Son of God. She likely knew there would be great heart ache in watching her son, the Messiah, fulfill his calling. Yet her hope, the world’s hope, shined bright. The child, the Son of God was coming.
This hope that Mary had, that we have is not a thing that can or cannot be held. It is a practice, a spiritual discipline. This year as we look forward to Christmas, many of us have already decorated for the season. We have hope and are keen to prepare our homes for the joy of Christmas. We practice that hope by decking our halls and hanging lights. We know what’s coming, we’re ready to see it and we act. We’ll never know what Mary was thinking as she raced to see Elizabeth, but this year let us consider this as an act of hope. Mary knew what she would find and raced to her relative to offer congratulations. In all manner of situations, we are comforted by the words, “This too shall pass.” We have hope that it will, and we prepare for when it does. We just need to remember that sometimes hope must be practiced for a really long time. At the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew we read that there are 42 generations from the time of Abraham to the arrival of the Messiah. That is a long time of waiting. Right now, we have barely made 42 weeks of living in a world of pandemic precautions. It feels like an eternity. Still I have hope. Still we plan. This year many plans have fallen through. It is frustrating. Over a long period of time that frustration can drain our hope. Fortunately, hope cannot be stolen so easily. We can practice it anyway. We look for new ways to celebrate and worship and serve. We keep going hoping to see a change soon.
I wish you the best this Advent and am praying for each of us to find new ways to cultivate and practice hope. With a little self-examination, you might find you have more hope that you thought! Be good to yourself this week.
Grace and peace,