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The same old story?: Most highly favoured lady!

December 15, 2013

Christmas. The story of Christmas. Is it all just a little bit too familiar? Is it easy to let it wash over our heads? The words we read and the words we sing.

Take for example when angel Gabriel visits Mary. Not an everyday occurrence. Terrifying for any young girl.

But as immortalised in the carol Gabriel tells Mary that she is highly favoured. God has spotted her and picked her out for a special role. “Gloria!”

So what reward had God chosen for this “highly favoured lady” who actually was probably barely old enough to be called a lady?

This girl was going to have a baby – only slight technical issue with all this was that she was a virgin.

People nowadays are pretty sceptical about the virgin birth, but surely we are kidding ourselves if we think it was easier for the people of the day to grasp.

First up she had to explain herself to fiancé Joseph. And guess what? He didn’t believe her! Fortunately for her he chose to keep things quiet rather than call for her to be punished, as the law required by stoning!

Happily God spoke to Joseph in a dream and swept away his scepticism.

But the fact was that Mary was pregnant and people could see it. People who didn’t have the benefit of angelic visits or heavenly dreams.

I wonder did Joseph and Mary ever try to explain their situation to their friends and neighbours or did they resign themselves to the fact that no one was likely to believe them. People drew their own conclusions.

Mary had been unfaithful to Joseph.

Joseph couldn’t wait until he was married.

They were just another couple who had made a baby out of wedlock. Probably a much bigger stigma in those days than we would imagine now.

The gossips would have had a field day. I mean let’s face it there is no such thing as a virgin birth. Perhaps they were always whispered about, even as they grew older and had their own children. “That was that couple. And some say they tried to tell people she was a virgin. I ask you”.

Oh and she had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem whilst heavily pregnant and give birth in amongst the animals.

And she had to run away to Egypt soon after the baby was born to escape a tyrant king who wanted to kill her baby.

And as the baby grew up to be a boy, she was taken by surprise by his disappearance and a desire to be in God’s house rather than with his parents.

When he became a man he gathered a following. And he started to say stuff. And frankly it sounded mad. She and her sons would have to go and collect him before he said anything else. Only to hear him say “who is my mother?”

And 30 odd years after the first visit of the angel, she stood on a hill, looking up in disbelief at her son – nailed to a criminal’s cross. And heard him ask a disciple to take her home as his own mother.

Most highly favoured lady? What kind of a reward did she receive?

She was told that she would be carrying the Son of God in her womb. By an act of God the Holy Spirit. At best that was going to be a tough act. She could not know the half of what that was going to mean for her.

But she said “I am the Lord’s servant. Let this happen just as you say”.

A truly remarkable young lady. Facing such danger, trial and sadness, and yet favoured by God as the unique woman who would carry out this vital role.


From → Christianity

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