Expecting Jesus- Free Sample
The God of no limits
Reading: Luke 1:26-38
Mary could not remember how long she sat motionless after Gabriel had gone, basking in the warmth that his presence had brought. In the silence which followed the angel’s departure, the pounding of her own heart echoed like thunder. For a time it was all she was conscious of. Then, quite slowly, she became aware of her surroundings again.
Had she really said, “May it be to me as you have said”? For a moment she struggled to believe those words had been hers. Her mind was far from an ocean of calm. To be more honest, questions like threatening waves were already being whipped up by the wind of change. “Can this really be true? What do I tell Joseph? Will he believe me? Will he disown me? What about everyone else?” With reverence her hand came to rest on her abdomen as a further question rose in her mind: “And am I pregnant right now?” But even as she asked it, she already felt different. She could no deny it. Her body, so human, had been entrust with a gift, so holy. Something of heaven had touched her. Despite her questions, a quiet acceptance of the ways of God had found a home within her. And so had God himself.
Near where I used to live was an army barracks. Dominating the main gate was a sign which read, “Prohibited place”. It was made clear to all who came near that this was a place of restricted access where some people were not welcome.
Mary could have chosen to make her womb a “prohibited place” for the Son of God. She could have resolved to shun his presence within her. She could have refused to co-operate with the responsibility entrusted to her by Gabriel.
Mary would have had good reason to think this way. The idea of the Messiah being born to a lowly village girl would not have been predicted by most Jews at the time. The very thought of God entering the world in this fashion was far removed from their minds. What Mary didn’t realise then was that God was simply starting his earthly life as he meant to go on. Even as the embryonic Christ, hidden in the secret place of Mary’s womb, God was exploding people’s expectations of where he should be and what he should do. And this pattern was to continue throughout Jesus’ life.
You would never have expected God in a womb
You would never have expected God to mingle with sinners on the earth
You would never have expected God on a cross
Yet each represented an essential facet of his plan of salvation in Christ.
I am challenged by the example of Mary, who allowed God to enter her very womb to fulfil his purposes. She did not put up any barriers to deny God entry. Yet how many times have I done just that with different areas of my life?
It also makes me think of times in my life which I have consciously or unconsciously written off as being ones in which God was not interested. Maybe it was a failure from which I felt nothing could be salvaged, or a disappointment from whose ashes I believed no encouragement could rise. Perhaps it was a fear which still imprisons me and I’ve reasoned there can be no key to unlock the door.
Mary’s example teaches us that there is no place in our lives where we cannot welcome God’s Spirit to strengthen, encourage and guide. There is no such thing as a “no-go” area for him. He is the God who goes where we might not expect him to. The only places that are prohibited for him are the ones in our lives which we deliberately choose to make so. God will not force himself upon us, but he wants to teach us that he can be close in every circumstance.
That’s the lesson Mary came to realise that first time she knew she was pregnant. She realised that she was not alone, but that someone was with her at each moment of the day and night. She could choose to ignore the presence of the unborn Christ within her, but it would not change the fact that he was there.
We may be facing difficult circumstances which make us feel either that God is not close or that he cannot come close. Take heart, for the angel Gabriel’s words to Annunciation can help us, if we will only let them: “The Lord is with you.” There are no conditions attached to that statement; it’s a plain fact, standing firm in all circumstances. And the one with the eyes to see, who looks to that truth, will discover that they are not alone, whatever their situation. In these Advent days to come, let us be open to learning more of this great truth. For otherwise we will look back on our different circumstances and only realise with hindsight that Jesus was right there all the time.
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and help me to open up my life to you.
Your hand is at the door;
only my will unlocks the latch.
Help me to realise you are ready and able to enter
even those areas of my life I believe you would shun,
that with hands of love and tenderness
you can begin to dismantle the barriers of fear, pain and failure
with which I have prohibited your entry.
This Christmas, teach me to welcome you afresh
and increase my expectations of how close you can be. Amen.