Monday, December 14, 2009

The Annunciation and Magnificat (Section 3c of the Nameless Luke Advent Thingee)

Eternal Hope, Temporary Pain

A couple days ago we counted Mary’s blessings, reviewed what a tremendous honor God had given Mary. But there’s a dark side to this blessing. Pain. Not just the pain of childbearing, but the pain of shame. I know there’s been significant scientific advancement in the last 2000 years, but people still knew how babies were made in the ancient world. And it wasn’t through the agency of the Holy Spirit.

Read Luke 1.34-37

There’s a painful side of Christmas that doesn’t make it on the commercials or in the ads. Missing loved ones who have died, estranged relationships. Mary has some questions. She doesn’t doubt it can happen (unlike Zechariah); she is unsure about how it will happen.

It turns out that it will happen through a virgin birth. When you think of pain and hardship during the holidays, think of Mary as she began to show that she was with child. She would be considered and adulterer (she was betrothed to Joseph). He would have been expected to divorce her, which he almost did (see Matthew 1). She would have been marginalized in a small community as an unchaste woman. She would have brought shame on her betrothed and her family. The angel’s message was a high honor, but it also came at a high cost. This would not be easy for Mary.

As we are in the midst of the holiday season, what kind of pain are you bearing? Think about the pain from your past. How has God used that pain to bring blessing? Mary surely felt the sting of rejection by her culture and the weight of others’ opinions, but the blessing outweighed the pain. Is there anywhere you can see this in your own life?

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