The story remains the same every year as we visit Mary in a small town in Galilee called Nazareth. A village of about 400 citizens it was like most other small towns, the type of place where it would not have taken long for news to get around, especially the news that Mary was receiving about a child who was not yet conceived but who would be called the Son of God.
What is it about this story that is so compelling that it is part of the holy scripture that draws us to the girl whom the theologian Karl Barth said was “the figure that was raised above all the figures of Advent?” Is this story compelling because Mary chose to say yes even though she was perplexed by the greeting she received from Gabriel who said, “Greetings favored one. The Lord is with you.”
As we find ourselves with Mary in Nazareth today, I invite you to ponder in your hearts how your life is part of the story of salvation. Ponder in your heart if the angel’s message to Mary (the Lord is with you) is really a message about the pondering presence of God in your life? Ponder in your heart what it means to encounter the unexpected presence of God that turns our lives upside down. Ponder what T. Forsyth meant when he wrote that “faith is not something we possess but something that possesses us.”
Ponder what it means to believe that somehow in the story of Mary, we can hear the story of our lives being told in the hope that we will be favored, chosen, and blessed to be part of the ongoing story of God’s salvation. Ponder what it means for our faith to become flesh as we are borne anew by Jesus, the “Son of the Most High?”
As you ponder these things, I invite you to ponder these reflections that Rev. Barbara Taylor offers about Mary and about ourselves as we visit Nazareth.
“Mary wins her place in history not for her cleverness, nor for her beauty, nor even for her goodness. She becomes the most important woman in the world simply because she is willing to say yes to an angel’s strange proposal without a clue where it will lead her. Doing so, she becomes the prototype for all of us who are into invited to bear God into the world.”
Perhaps the reason we visit Mary in Nazareth is because we know that her story does not conclude in Nazareth as Jesus will be born in Bethlehem and crucified in Jerusalem. Perhaps the reason we visit Mary in Nazareth is because we know that our story does not conclude in Nazareth.
Perhaps the reason we visit Mary in Nazareth is because we know we are being invited to be part of the story of God’s salvation as Mary tells Gabriel. “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Perhaps we are in Nazareth today because we want to be borne into borne into new life through the babe who will be borne by Mary, the babe who will become the Savior or the world.
by Pastor Marc Brown
December 24, 2023
Accompanying Scriptures: Luke 1:26-38
Fort Hill United Methodist Church
Order of Worship for December 24, 2023
Scripture Lesson Luke 1:26-38
The Good News “Nazareth”
Music “Joy to the World” Hymn #246
Closing Music “Mary Did You Know?” arr. Bill Wolaver