On Being (Luke 1:39-56)
As if one bombshell wasn’t enough. Mary is left in the silence of the angel Gabriel’s departure with ears ringing. Not only is she, obscure teen girl, to bear Messiah; her childless menopausal cousin Elizabeth is also pregnant. The angel’s final words pound in her head: ‘Nothing is impossible with God’! The thought echoes off the adobe walls of her room like lamplight in the temple’s gold-plated sanctuary. Who can understand the plans of God? Why has God chosen her? And why now bless her aged cousin’s womb? Pondering these things, Mary seems to think of only one thing. She needs to see Elizabeth. Driven by some unknown dogged determination to visit, Mary gets herself ready and hurries off to Elizabeth and Zechariah’s home.
Sometimes life’s like that. We know our routines. We have our hopes and dreams. We have plans for our future. And then God comes along. Bursting into our conscious lives, often through upsetting those plans, we are urged to take a new direction. Not that our previous paths were wrong. In fact, like Mary, it is the day-to-day living in humility that prepares us for the God-nudges in new directions. And when His Spirit does speak His Word to our hearts, that humility will help us move into the new path to be taken. Perhaps, like Mary, we will even pursue it joyfully, pondering how, ‘nothing is impossible with God’.
Now Mary arrives at her destination. She must be full of wonder as she sees dear aged Elizabeth whose robes cannot hide her changing shape. ‘Savta’, old childless grandmother will become ‘ima’, mother; the grey-bearded, voiceless Zechariah smiles a welcome, touched by the girl’s surprise visit. As Mary’s greeting rings out, the room is electrified by something holy. We are told the baby in Elizabeth’s womb ‘leaps’—I imagine a resounding kick is what it was, O joyful reminder of God’s faithfulness to the elderly woman. Elizabeth finds herself singing out a blessing to “the mother of my Lord”, likely surprised at the words coming from her mouth. God’s Spirit is almost tangible in the room as Mary replies with her own blessing-prayer. She praises God’s faithfulness to the humble, to those who are hungry for His work in their lives, to those who see themselves as His servants. She comments on His mercy, His mighty deeds, His lifting and filling and helping; His holy name.
Hearing this story some two thousand years after the fact is challenging. It’s tempting to nod and smile and think how amazing it must have been for Elizabeth or Zechariah or Mary. God sure did amazing things back then.
Yet ‘nothing is impossible with God’. Is not His Spirit still alive and well? For those who have committed themselves to be disciples of His Son, the impossible continues to be done; greater than the temporary condition of a miraculous pregnancy, more awesome than the one-time Spirit–filled blessings of Elizabeth’s pronouncement and Mary’s ‘Magnificat’. God’s Spirit is alive, well, and dwelling constantly within US. His energy is leaping within our spirits. His love is moving us to live out the new life that is within us. What is to be our response?
Just Be. Be humble. Be a servant. Be a blessing to others. Be open to praying prayers of thanksgiving that exude from a Spirit-filled heart. Be His conduit of miraculous work in His world; He loves to work through us. What else comes to mind when you think of what the Spirit of God wants you to be? Nothing is impossible for Him, so, be it.