Scripture: Luke 1:26-56
Focus Passage: “And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus” (1:31)
When we think of the story of Jesus’ conception and birth, we often think about the mysterious and miraculous aspects of this story; a divine visitor, a young woman, an “overshadowing.” This is not the first story in scripture in which God intervenes to give a couple a child, but it is different from all the others – and we tend to emphasize the differences. But, it also has things in common with the other stories. So often in the biblical story, God’s solution to the big troubles in the world is… a woman will have a baby. For example:
- In the 13th chapter of Judges, the first sentence tells a big-picture story about national and communal pain: the Israelites, due to their evil ways, were given over into the hands of their enemies for forty years! The very next sentence narrows down to the lives of one man and woman, and the announcement that they will have a son.
- In the 7th chapter of Isaiah, King Ahaz and the people of Jerusalem are surrounded by hostile armies, consumed with fear and anxiety. Isaiah tells the king that God will give a sign of God’s presence – a young woman is with child and will bear a son.
Take a moment…What are the planetary/national/community troubles that weigh on your heart? Name them; tell God your hopes; ask God for help.
These stories about the births of babies tell us something about the way God works. They suggest that God – the ways of God, the things of God, God-with-us – is always present, always being birthed, always creating potential and possibility, in and through the most usual and ordinary of circumstances. A young woman will bear a son and will call him Jesus. What could be more ordinary? What could be more miraculous? What could be more hopeful?
Take a moment…Think back over the last several days or weeks and notice the small signs of life, of hope. Were there moments of freedom or peace? Moments of energy and change? Moments of insight or surprise? Moment of grief or anguish? Moments of calm and contentment? Moments of kindness and love? What are the signs of God’s presence in your ordinary, miraculous life?
Ever-coming One, help me see the signs of your presence.
Just as a baby needs to be cared for and nurtured to grow into her potential, so too, does God’s life with and in us. Notice God’s presence in small and big ways this week (maybe keep a list); savor what you notice (what do these experiences tell you about God? About yourself?); respond with hope (is there an invitation for you in what you notice?); nurture the potential that God’s presence brings.
2017, Rebecca Bosarge