Wednesday, December 8, 2010
DECEMBER 8—Eleventh Day of Advent
26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!" 29But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.
Do you like surprises? God sure does. He likes ad libs and pretzelly plot lines. Take this passage for instance. How many surprises can you count?
Well, maybe you found more than I, but here goes. First, imagine an angel appearing to you. Angels are scary people. That certainly must have made Mary drop something valuable. Gabriel gave no advanced warning. He didn't make an appointment. One minute, Mary is day dreaming about her wedding to Joseph, and then—pop!—Gabriel is there in the living room, "Rejoice highly favored one!" Another surprise is where this girl lived. She lived in Galilee of the Gentiles. The Jews from Judah had a habit of harrumphing around Galilean Jews. But this is a surprise within a surprise, because God chose not just a distasteful region, but perhaps the worst town He could find within it. Nazareth. "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Why, actually. . . yes. Jesus did. Is anything better? Surprise!
And then, Gabriel came to see a surprising person. Mary was a poor girl, living in a gross city. You never would have thought to look at her, but within this humble girl ran the blood of Ancient Kings. And Mary was surprised not only by the sudden arrival of the angel, but by what he said. He called her, highly favored one. Certainly she did not think of herself this way. Had Gabriel got the wrong house? The next big surprise came when she learned she was to have the baby, Jesus. How could she be pregnant when she was not married? And God wasn't even through with the surprises, though I am through with my verses, and my allotted space.
Why does God give so many surprises? Why does he do things so differently than we would? Well first, just because He likes to. But also, He chooses foolish things to shame the wise, and weak things he chooses to shame the mighty. A baby and a pregnant virgin and a backward town of second-rate Jews—these are weak things. And through them, God upended the world.
—Pastor Joost Nixon, Christ Church, Spokane, Washington
Almighty Father, you show your power in hidden ways. You use weak things to overcome the mighty, and foolish things to overcome the wise. We praise you for sending Jesus in the way you did, and for hiding things from the proud, and revealing them to babes. Grant us the humility, Father, to see the wisdom of your foolishness, and the power of your impotency. AMEN.
God saved us from His wrath through unexpected ways. And He grants smaller salvations, daily, after the same style. Give an example of how God has surprised you with one of His deliverances.