Luke 1:26-45

 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David.  The virgin’s name was Mary.  And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”  But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.

The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.  He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”  The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.  And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren.  For nothing will be impossible with God.”

Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”  Then the angel departed from her.

 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country,where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.  When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb.  And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spiritand exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.  And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?  For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy.  And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

  Rev. X. Rae Browning, First Christian Church, Cumberland, MD:

How Mary must have felt!  Fear, questioning, uncertainty at this announcement must have overwhelmed her.  But after listening to the messenger, she conceded to becoming God’s servant.  Then she hurried to the hills to someone who might give solace, comfort, and help in coming to terms with what was taking place.  What a predicament:  promised in marriage and still a virgin, but now pregnant!  But, as the angel foretold, Mary rests in the favor of God, and upon her arrival, brings joy to a leaping child within Elizabeth.  A little puzzled, Elizabeth questions Mary:  How could it be that she is given this honor of being in the presence of the one carrying her Lord?   

In a first birth, much is unknown. One has no previous experience of what is coming, and while there are many who will tell their stories and opinions, each one is different.  Holding a baby for the first time can fill a mother with ecstasy.  Seeing God’s work in such a tiny one fills hearts with love and warmth beyond words. But this baby, brought into the world by this blessed favored mother, brings to all who believe and keep faith the greatest gift of all.  As we await the coming of our Lord, let us turn toward the mercy of God which has no end.

God of love, help us to trust in your presence for our future.

In our joys, fears and uncertainties may we always turn to you.