It is Christmas eve 2012 and we are reading the precursor to the Christmas story. Luke 1 has two amazing pregnancies -- And old woman (and her older husband) who have been childless but are blessed to discover that she is pregnant and that the son she is carrying will be called John. We know John as John the Baptizer. His parents, Elizabeth and Zechariah, are great examples of faithful waiting on God. John's story is Luke 1:5-25; 57-80.
The visit of the angel Gabriel to Nazareth and the home of a young woman named Mary really is the beginning of the Christmas story. It is quite -- no angel choir but one lone angel -- it is isolated -- no shepherds or choirs or visiting magi but one young woman with an amazing choice. How would you choose? I believe Mary has a choice in the story. Would you choose to bring the Son of God into the world -- a decision that ruins her reputation and whatever hope of normalcy she may have had for her life or family -- or would you choose to take the mundane and normal path? Mary's response to the angel is "Let it be with me according to your word." How many victories, how much grace and peace and justice and mercy could be won in our world if our responses matched hers. Let it be with me according to your word!
Mary's song of praise, often called the Magnificat, is found in 1:46-55. In Mary's poem, which is patterned after Hannah's song in 1 Samuel, we find that the arrival of her son will be the total disruption of the world as we know it. Mighty are lowered, the lowly are raised up. The hungry are fed and the rich are sent empty away. It is a word of total economic upheaval a releasing of the oppressed and a suppression of the privileged. The immediate application is the overthrow of Rome and a new beginning for God's chosen people. The ultimate application is hope to a lost and discouraged people in any time and place. Through Jesus we find the strength and grace to rise above.
Someone pointed out to me this week that Mary's son is given two names: 1. Emmanuel which means "God is with us" is a revealing of who he is; 2) Jesus (which in Hebrew means "The Lord Saves) which is a revealing of what he does.. .