This is part of my exercises in empathy series. Go here for links to the other posts.
Sometimes, I realize that I have never bothered to think deeply about
certain stories in the Bible because, well, they were what they were as I had always heard them.
In this instance, I was adapting Luke 1:26-38 into a script so that we
could act out the story with the children. (Acting out Bible stories
was something my parents did with their children when we were young
and it is definitely one of my fondest memories.)
And I was knocked for a loop!
The first thing that struck me, actually jarred me awake, was the
observation of the great lengths God went to secure the virgin Mary's
consent before giving her a child. Here I see a great story of the highest power in the universe not stooping to exploitation because the
power existed to do so, but rather regarding the dignity and will of a
human being, of a woman. (I'll bet Older Mary loved to tell this
story, over and over!)
Because, yeah, it's no small thing to become a mommy. Plus, there was
quite a social stigma (and possibility of dire consequences,) at the
appearance of unwed pregnancy in those times. This was kind of a big
deal; possibly a deal-breaker depending on a recent poll among local
virgins. (Just kidding; there was no poll.)
Realize, though, God had a lot hanging on carrying out the plan of
redemption for the whole world. This was demonstrated by his choice of
the very same messenger who, in the past, was the one chosen to visit
a prophet or a priest. Gabriel. Yeah, BIG JOB!
The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to declare God's will: that Mary
would carry and birth the Holy One and name him Jesus.
Now, Gabriel could have just said, "Hey Mary. God's taking charge of
your womb because your Savior needs a surrogate. In fact, guess what?
The little Blessing is already on the way! I'n't that awesome?"
But no, he listened as she expressed her puzzlement as well as her
misgivings, taking great care in answering all of her questions. He
explained what to expect in more detail than is necessary for someone
just delivering a king's command. Gabriel stuck around, adding his two
cents where it seemed clarification was needed. Who knows how long
this altercation took in real time? Normally, you'd think he had
bigger things to do. Like, you know, standing in God's presence, which
was his job description. (Luke 1:19)
So we see, Gabriel does not just vanish after he says his piece and
before the shocked young Mary can respond. His departure only occurs
after Mary utters the words "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." Luke 1: 38 (NKJV) Which is her way of giving assent to the proposition. As soon as she
says yes, the conversation is over and Gabriel goes home.
Because mission accomplished!
The rest was in God's hands, to facilitate the miracle and the
beginning of the restoration of the whole earth.
This is a profound respect. That Almighty did not assault Mary with
his greatness and demand acquiescence. Instead, she was approached gently and treated with dignity.
Mary, upon hearing the
explanation, clearly accepted the prophesied divine child with joy; a
joy she went on to share with her cousin, Elizabeth. The song of Mary,
that follows in Luke 1:46-55, reflects that joy: "My soul magnifies the
Lord... for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant."
Can you just imagine the heavenly cloud of witnesses standing by in thankful awe?
Imagine Eve, weeping joy at the long-awaited new beginning.
Imagine Leah and Rachel, slow clapping, because Mary did not have to play along with the intrigues of a selfish father.
Imagine Miriam and Deborah, watching their deliverance songs being rewritten with better words.
Imagine Bathsheba, looking on with approval that this new King was worthy of her trust.
Imagine all the women of Israel past, cheering and shouting and dancing at the great promise fulfilled.
And then imagine that leap from within as Elizabeth watched Mary lift up her voice in triumph and true glory!
And here I am, book open on my lap, overwhelmed in wonder and adoration; my spirit rejoicing in God, my Savior.
Truly is Mary honored among women and truly is she blessed.