Text study on Luke 1:26-38
Lectionary texts for Advent 4, December 18, 2011
During this Advent season of watching and waiting, I forget that Mary wasn’t watching or waiting — at least not at first.
The angel comes out of the blue, probably causing Mary to fall over or drop whatever she is holding at the time. “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you!”
Favored one? With me? What does this mean? Why now?
God interrupts our lives at the most inconvenient times, wouldn’t you agree?
Perhaps this is God’s way of making it clear that we are not really in charge. Our calendars and agendas don’t really hold sway.
If God’s plans didn’t feel like interruptions, and we experienced them as convenient or easy, we might get them confused with our own plans. Maybe we can be shaken open to new possibilities only when we are caught off guard.
This may be good news for those of us rounding the corner into week four of Advent and feeling like seasonal failures.
If you’ve jumped the gun on the Christmas music, fallen prey to the compulsive shopping bug, or are just really antsy to be done with this busy season, read Luke 1:26-38.
Read it slowly, as if you’ve never read it before.
What surprises you this time around?
Listen for echoes of the Annunciation throughout worship this week. When you hear a pastor say to the assembly in worship, “The Lord be with you,” remember that you are a bearer of Christ for the world. Like Mary, ponder what sort of greeting this might be.
I am surprised anew at Mary’s response, “Here am I.”
She sounds more rooted than she was; more sure than she may have been. I give thanks for Mary’s “Yes.”
For the “Yes” uttered by all the faithful who have gone before us. For the “Yes” that may be somewhere deep in each of us, waiting for the surprising God to ask of us what seems impossible, and is impossible, except by the grace of God.
- When have you said “Yes” to God?
- What would you do if an angel suddenly appeared before you?
Callista Isabelle, an ELCA pastor, is the associate university chaplain at Yale University in New Haven, Conn.