by Katie Harmon-McLaughlin
This is where we begin. So easily we can get caught on what really happened and what did not, could not.
This is the question you are invited to ponder today:
How is this story still happening in your life, in the world?
28 And [the angel] came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus… 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 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. 36 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. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 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.
(Luke 1:26-38, NRSV)
Allow this peculiar story at the heart of our journey to come to life in your imagination. Discover where you find yourself within it.
As the story unfolds within me, I have many questions. First, what was this scene like? Was this mid-day or mid-night? Was Mary busy about her daily tasks when interrupted or was she sitting still, poised receptive, as so many of the paintings depict? If you took her pulse during this encounter, would you be concerned about her heart rate? What was she thinking… and better yet, because thoughts probably at this point made no sense, what was she feeling? What was the strongest movement within her once the angel eased her fear? Was it curiosity? Desire? Awe? Confusion? Timidity? Terror? Wonder?
This encounter seems to happen in an instant. No instructions. No real explanation. Just a proclamation and a question- are you willing to be the bearer of God? Imagine yourself in her place. You have a second to choose. This angel before you will be gone as quickly as he came. But nothing can be normal from here.
Could you dare to utter the words, “Let it be with me according to your word”? Could you dare to even nod your head yes?
This is a story of the Holy birthed in unexpected places. A virgin. A barren older woman. An oppressed people. The deeper message beneath these images seems to be- even in seemingly lifeless places, God’s life can and will emerge. There is always reason for hope. This is a message we need.
What is also unexpected is Mary’s unlikely yes to this disruptive and largely unknown invitation. The whole story hinges upon Mary’s yes to God.
The thin moments between the angel arrival and departure, between the question and the answer, are the spaces that we can most relate to. This thin space occurs daily in each of our lives. Have you noticed? You may be about your daily tasks. You may be sitting still, poised receptive. You may be awakened in the middle of the night. You may be driving to work or shopping at the grocery store or walking down the halls at your school. Chances are, there is a proclamation somewhere of what is possible if you would but see. Chances are, God-With-Us is asking to be birthed in you, for the kingdom of God to be made real in whatever place you are in.
Are you willing to become the bearer of God? What yes is sitting on your heart, emerging despite the fear and trembling? Will you be surprised at yourself when you say it out loud?
The Angel words on repeat in your soul- “The Lord is with you. Do not be afraid.”
Spiritual Practice: Notice the thin spaces of angel visitation in your daily life. What sacred yes are you invited to say?