About the author: Tom Corbett has been a member at ZPC since 2014. Tom's son, daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren live in Bloomington. Tom is an active volunteer. At ZPC, he is involved with the Great Banquet community and serves in the children's ministry area. He has volunteered with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society for 27 years and Storytelling Arts of Indiana for 6 years.
About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring traditional Advent themes of waiting, mystery, redemption, and incarnation. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpc advent to 39970. Advent booklets are also available at the ZPC Welcome Center. We welcome your comments and questions each day.
Mystery | Luke 1:26-33 NIV
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.
But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
Every Advent season when I hear this scripture, it is a reminder to me to read all of Luke 1. When the angel Gabriel foretells of the births of John the Baptist and Jesus, the contrasting responses of the elderly priest Zechariah and the young Mary make me wonder, “Which one am I?”
Zechariah, doubtful after so many childless years and seeking a sign, responded, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”
Gabriel assured Zechariah, and then made him mute until the birth of John – actually, until Zechariah affirmed his infant son’s name in writing.
Mary, faithful and believing Gabriel’s words, wondered, “How will this be since I am a virgin?”
Gabriel assured Mary, “Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”
Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.”
Today while I was reading and reflecting on Luke 1, I began to wonder about the mystery and the reality of God walking among us every day, and this memory surfaced:
When I was 26, my brother-in-law, a paramedic, invited me to take an EMT course he was teaching. A few months after I passed the Indiana and the National registry exams, he and my sister, also an EMT, asked me to assist them with a long distance patient transport from Southern Kentucky to Indianapolis. My sister and I would be in the back of the ambulance monitoring our patient, an 80-year-old woman who had suffered a stroke and was being transferred to a rehab facility closer to her children.
During the return trip to Indianapolis, we were surprised to find our patient very alert and very talkative. But there was a problem; a challenge, rather. She was partially paralyzed on the right side of her body, including her face. Her speech was not slurred, but her words were not clear either. Also, she couldn’t make the hard “c” and “k” sounds, just like my toddler son. Because of my son, I was able to understand every word our patient spoke. My role became “translator” and for 4-1/2 hours she told us about her late husband, her parents and grandparents, her children, stories of when she was a little girl, and on and on. She was so sharp. So smart. As we were readying our patient to exit the ambulance, she took my hand one last time and said, “Thank you. God bless you.”
Perhaps this memory of my Saturday afternoon with a gracious, faithful, trusting, and strong woman surfaced today because Mary embodied those traits. The simple, young Mary, who would be the mother of the Son of the Most High, responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.”
“Which one am I?” Both Mary and Zechariah are trusting and faithful to God. Mary’s joy and praise are uncomplicated, while Zechariah’s joy and praise come after the birth of John, when he is again able to speak. Zechariah knew Gabriel was an angel sent by God. Perhaps after so many childless years, he was simply skeptical of Gabriel’s message. He lacked youthful faith and hope.
Yes, the Advent season is a time of expectant waiting, preparation, and celebration! It is also a time for reflection, renewal, and a return to youthful faith and hope!
Mystery surrounds us every minute of every day. Today, listen for God’s gentle whisper (1 Kings 19). Ask God to give you ears to hear and eyes to see the ways he is speaking to you. Ask him for the ability to recognize his voice. This evening, reflect on when, where and how you felt or saw God walking with you.
God our Father,
Draw us more deeply into the mystery of your love and prepare our hearts to receive the gift of your Son, who is our light and our salvation. Open our ears and our eyes to you. Let it be according to your word. Grant us your peace.
In Jesus’ name we pray,