Author: Millie Snyder
Scripture: Luke 1:26-38
Key verse: (37) “For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Reflection: Today’s reading is the story of the annunciation, the angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary to announce God’s plan for incarnation. The angel tells Mary that she will become pregnant and she will give birth to a son who is the Son of God. Mary asks an important question, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”
I believe there is more to Mary’s question than we first imagine. On the surface, Mary’s question is about scientific possibility. How can she conceive a child if she isn’t intimately involved with any man? Under the surface, her question is about societal norms and expectations. For an unmarried woman in the first century, a pregnancy brought condemnation and perhaps even a death sentence. She likely would be ostracized. She would face questions that she would be unable to answer in any satisfactory way. She was engaged to Joseph and he would be expected to cast her out as a public disgrace. If God is choosing to become human and live among us, why in the world would God do it in this unlikely, risky, scandalous way?
The angel responds that nothing will be impossible with God. On the surface, this means that God isn’t hindered by the laws of biology. Under the surface, this also means that God acts in the most unexpected ways and equips faithful people to overcome all kinds of obstacles. People of faith can withstand societal pressure. People of faith can swim upstream even when the current is strong! God’s love is so powerful that miracles happen!
The angel’s response echoes the response given to Abraham and Sarah when Sarah laughed at the announcement that she would have a son (Genesis 18:14). In that story, the translation reads “Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?” Apparently God has been in the miracle business, doing unexpected acts of love, and equipping faithful people from the beginning! Thanks be to God for this good news!
Prayer: Surprise me, O Lord. Teach me to look for you in unexpected places and equip me to be faithful. Amen.
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].
(Image from The Nativity, illustrated by Julie Vivas, Voyager Books, 1986)