The Annunciation by Matthias Stomer (early 17th century Dutch artist)
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
(Luke 1:26-38 ESV)
Oh, Mary. This is just the beginning of your story.
And I have questions, questions, questions … and not like the ones in the song. I’m guessing you pretty much had no idea that your baby boy would bring sight to the blind man or calm a storm with his hand. Maybe you did, but that would make you one of the very few who understood who your son was and what he would do as the promised Messiah.
All that aside.
Did you scream when the angel appeared? I mean, a mouse running across the floor is likely to make me yelp and this is an ANGEL!
Just how old were you? Folks who follow your son centuries later are all out of whack. Scholars tell us you were pretty young, but we insist on portraying you as a 20-something (or older) in various art forms. You could really help us maintain continuity if you could let us know.
Were your parents at home when the angel popped in? Did they freak out when they heard a man’s voice in your room?
And about Joseph. I know what the book of Matthew tells us, but what was it like, one-on-one when you told him about the angel’s visit?
I know this comes later, but why visit Elizabeth? I guess the angel’s mention of her prompted thoughts of her which might logically lead to a visit, but you had just received some seriously life-changing news and you decided to go off for a visit.
Speaking of that visit, please tell me someone went with you that the Bible never names. I’d hate to think of a young woman making such a long, dangerous trip alone.
Did you have anyone you could turn to during your pregnancy? Anyone who would listen when you were flat-out scared about the immense responsibility that comes with a newborn? Anyone who could offer words of comfort when you were worried that something would be wrong with the baby? Or, did the whole town simply sit in judgment on you and make you face the whole experience alone?
That’s enough of the questions for now.
But, before I go, I have to tell you one thing.
I love how you expected the miracle.
The angel showed up and started talking about having a son and how great he would be and how his kingdom would never end. You simply ask how it would happen since you were a virgin.
You didn’t make the logical assumption that the angel was talking about a child you would have with Joseph at a future time.
You expected a miracle.
And you expected it to happen immediately.
That doesn’t happen today. It’s too easy to be cynical and pessimistic. We’re clinical, scientific and prone to over-rationalizing. It’s too easy not to expect a miracle.
This Advent, let me live in expectation of miracles.
These Throwback Thursday (#TBT) posts are some of my favorites from previous blogs presented here with only the slightest editing. This post originally appeared on an older blog on December 3, 2010.