In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. In those days, Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed.
Food for Thought:
The line that stands out to me in this passage is, “Do not be afraid, Mary.” Over 50 Scripture verses have a Do Not Fear message. I think this message had to be repeated over and over in the Biblical narrative as a reminder. One of my favorite phrases is, “Do not fear, God is here” It is nowhere in the Bible, it’s just one of those phrases I made up over the years. When we trust in God and trust that God has our best interests in mind, we need not fear.
Loving God, we are thankful for your steadfast love and faithfulness. All that we have and all that we are come from you, O God. Teach us, O God, how to love and serve you more faithfully. Teach us how to have compassion for the least of these by reaching out to the stranger in our midst, feeding those who are hungry, visiting the sick and the imprisoned, as your son Jesus so poignantly taught us through his life of love and service. In your holy name we pray, Amen.