When Heaven Came to Earth I: Mary

Mary

When Heaven Came to Earth

Mary

Luke 1:26-55

Isaiah 2:1-5

Ready or not… (daunting)

As we rounded that last curve in the road a moment ago, I could just about see my hometown growing off in the distance.  We must be only about an hour’s journey from Nazareth at this point.

Ready or not… (Weary)

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be happy to get off this donkey and have two feet on the ground for a while!  This caravan has been traveling for the past day and a half.  Bumbling along on donkey is getting old… Not an easy trip when you are six months along… Let me tell you!  I’m uncomfortable to say the least.  Still, I’m glad I was able to spent some time with my Cousin Elizabeth, as she prepared for her own baby.  Wow! What a surprise that was!  She’s not exactly young!

Ready of not… (surprised and a little sarcastic)

But it was time to head back to Nazareth…  My live is about to get a whole lot more difficult!

To be honest, I’m a little terrified of what awaits me up ahead.  I’ve only been away from Nazareth a few months, so I’m sure that as soon as I get back the gossip mill will start turning once again…  I never imagined being at the center of a scandal.  Or so everyone thinks.

But the truth is.  What’s happening right now… What’s growing in my belly right now… is so much bigger than anything they could dream up!… so much more important than what any of my neighbors might think! Not that I can convince them of anything… They all think that I’ve ruined myself.  Dishonored my family… … dishonored Joseph…  That’s the worst part…  Knowing that they are so embarrassed of me…  That Joseph is so embarrassed of me…

But even with all the gossiping around town, and the assumptions that everyone has made… I am happy to be God’s servant.  To be a vessel.

Ready or not…  (overwhelmed)

It is hard to believe that sixth months have gone by since the angel Gabriel visited me.  It seems like just last night.  I remember, I was in my room, getting ready for bed… and I look up and there is a bright, glorious, horrifying, and yet somehow still beautiful face starting back at me! He was a man… but somehow something entirely different… something more…  And he said to me, “Greetings!  You who are highly favored!  The Lord is with you!”

He was so cheerful when he said those words, and I was absolutely terrorized… There was an angle in my bedroom!  But not just any angle… this was Gabriel.  I grew up hearing the stories of my ancestors… I have heard the tales of Daniel before.  So, I know that this was the angel that scared even him… such a brave and faithful man.  What would an angle… THIS angle be doing in my bedroom?

I was so shocked… it took me a moment to process that he had spoken to me.  What had he said… “You who are highly favored!  The Lord is with you!”  That was it.

Highly favored?  Me?  … but… why?

I’m just a girl… just a girl from a poor podunk town in Galilee.  Why am I highly favored?

Well… before I could ponder that any farther… Gabriel spoke again.

“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.”

What?!?  (shocked and awed and a little irritated)

         When he said that I got a little caught up on the “you will conceive and give birth to a son”… part of that speech.

Excuse me?

If I was so highly favored in the eyes of God:

Surely my Lord would know that I am an honorable girl.  I have been engaged to an honorable man since I was about seven.

Surely my Lord, doesn’t expect me to… to… to conceive

Surely not.

I had to ask, I couldn’t not ask…

I said, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

And Gabriel said, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most high will overshadow you.  So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.  Even Elizabeth you 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.”

Really, I thought, Elizabeth is pregnant?  Our Elizabeth?

No, wait… stay on track… family news can keep for latter.

(sigh… focus)

The Son of God.

The Son of God.

The Son of my Lord.

(deep breath)

Wait a minute!  What did he say earlier?… something about “He will be great and be called the Son of the Most high”… something about, “his reign and kingdom will never end.”

There is an angle in my room, telling me, little ol’ me… that I will carry the ruler, the great king or eternity…

Well… alright then.  I turned to look straight into the deep and holy eyes of this messenger of God.  This terrifying bearer of the greatest news that this world has ever known… and I say, “I am the Lord’s servant.  May your word to me be fulfilled.”

Ready of not…   (gritted teeth… determined)

(pause)

That was the weirdest night of my life!  Let me tell you!

I woke up the next morning just bursting to tell everyone the good news!   That I was highly favored, and that My Lord was going to make me conceive, and that the baby would be the God’s son!

But when I told my parents the good news… they didn’t believe me.

They said I was making up stories to cover up my betrayal.  They pointed their finger at me and accused me!

They thought that I had gone out and ruined myself!

They told me that I would be stoned for that kind of behavior!

They told me that there was no way that a good man like Joseph was ever going to marry me now!  Dad started ranting about my dowry and how much it cost to have daughters… And I just threw what little money we had down the drain…

They said that I was as good as dead!  That I had to hide!  And worst of all… that I was an embarrassment…

Now… I know that they were just surprised and reacting… And I think now, that some time has passed, they are beginning to realize that I wasn’t lying…  (hmph… maybe…)

But their doubt in me really hurt.

If you can believe it… Joseph’s reaction was even worse.  He did that stoic quiet thing that is so much worse than the yelling!

I put off telling him as long as I dared… But I was a couple months along… I was just starting to grow…  So I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer.  Besides we were engaged.  I owed it to him to be honest.  Sure, we have been engaged for forever, but now that I was fourteen, and he was seventeen… the marriage was really just around the corner.

So I went to him, and told him the whole story… and he just looked sad.  His eyes were so sad.  Joseph is a good man! He really is!  I can’t believe that it was I, that it was me… that put that sad, sad look in his eyes…  He sort of nodded, and turned away… told me he needed some time to think.

I knew that even he, this good and faithful man… didn’t believe that God could or would work this kind of miracle.  I sort of get it.  I’m just me… this is just Nazareth… it doesn’t really fit with what we think of when we consider God’s big plan…

I get it.  I really do.  I’m still in shock myself…

Ready or not… (distracted)

After that, things just really went down hill for me.  My friends and neighbors started to talk.  I couldn’t really hide that fact that I was pregnant!  Then some rumors started to go around that what I done was illegal and needed to be punished…

So, my family (who were thankfully starting to come around) packed up my stuff and hurried me off to stay with my cousin Elizabeth.

Now, Elizabeth lives in Judea, which was quiet a ways away… but nevertheless… it was the safest choice for the moment.

But you know what happened when I got there!?  I was just walking in to the house and I called out to her.  So she turned to me, and she put her hand of her great big about-to-pop belly and shouts at me “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!  But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?   As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.  Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

How great is that!   Not a moment’s hesitation from her!  For the first time in months, someone believed me.  Someone shared the joy that I felt at carrying the son of my Lord.

She called me blessed!

I have been called liar, whore, a disgrace… an embarrassment.  But here I am being called Blessed.

It kinda felt like, for the first time since the angle Gabriel’s visit that I could maybe believe that God had indeed found favor in me… that there was something inside of me that was beautiful and worthy of this task of carrying God’s son.

What a gift!  What a gift it was to hear the approval and welcome of my dear cousin.   And how wonderful it was feel her baby leap in her womb.  I think these two babies are going to be great friends.

I stayed with her a long as I could.  I helped her get ready for her baby.  And was around long enough to meet baby John…

But now it is time to go back to Nazareth.

Man!  If I thought the ride to Judea was bad on donkey… the ride back to Nazareth was even worse!

But that is okay.  I know that things in Nazareth are going to be difficult.  All the rumors about when and why I left will be confirmed.  But hopefully everyone has cooled down enough to let me live.  And even if they haven’t… I am growing the son of God here… so I can trust God to intervene if need be!

All I know is that this baby has changed me!  Already!  And he is still growing!

I can’t wait to see how, my little Jesus, will change the world.

This world is so broken, so scared.  Just see how the people have treated me!  I’m an outcast!  I’m a lost, pregnant, unwed teenager… And rather than love me through it… they have discarded me.  But thats okay, because this baby is going to change everything!  This baby is hope.  Hope and Promise for this broken and scared world.

The Son of the Most High!

The Son of God!

Imagine!   How lucky are we!?!  How blessed am I!?!  I am God’s servant…

Ready of not…   (serene)

         I wrote a song.  We are almost to Nazareth, but I think I have enough time to share it with you!  Would you like to hear it?

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.

From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me- holy is his name.  His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.

He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.

He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”

Amen.

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