ADVENT MEDITATIONS No.9
9. Is God for me?
Luke 1:28-31 The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.
If only God would stay in heaven, we’d be all right! I’m sure that’s what some people think. The ‘Deists’ of earlier centuries thought like that. They were happy to believe in a God who created the world, but they then envisaged Him sitting back and letting it get on without His interference. It’s more comfortable like that isn’t it! But this is God’s world and He delights in interacting with the human race. He made us for that purpose.
Yesterday we laboured over the possibility of God actually coming. Now we consider the more personal details of this story. Here we have a young Jewish girl and an angel appears to her. If that wasn’t bad enough – for when was the last time you encountered an angel? – the angel says she is highly favoured with God. In fact twice he says that. Now, as we’ve suggested in earlier meditations, we very often feel guilt about our lives and so the thought of God turning up doesn’t thrill us! When a heavenly messenger, in angelic or human form, turns up and tells you that God is blessed by you, for many that is almost too much to cope with. Mary was greatly troubled by the angel’s greeting; how would you have felt?
Seriously, suppose you were sitting alone at home one day and suddenly without a door opening, a figure full of light was standing there saying (in modern language), “Hi, I’m from God. He wants you to know He’s really pleased with you and He’s here for you”, I wonder how you’d feel? Full of immediate joy? I think you’d be more likely to be full of questions: why me, why at this time, what have I done to get God’s attention, what does He want?
I said yesterday that it’s sometimes difficult to get behind the Christmas story because we may know it too well. If you think coping with an angel is easy stuff, you’ve never really thought about it in depth. The truth is, of course, that whenever God turns up and says things to us, it is unsettling. There we were quietly coping (or struggling) with life and even though it might have been hard going on a bad day, somehow we can cope with what is familiar. Then God arrives and suddenly everything is changed. The Lord of the Universe has come to us, God Almighty, all-knowing, all wise, the One who is so different from us. That is unnerving!
For the moment, all He says to Mary, through the angel, is that she will be having a baby who she is to name Jesus. That seems fairly straight forward so far, but even this is a life change. Mary has got a question about it as we’ll see tomorrow, but for the moment, it’s only something she would expect to happen anyway. I mean, she about to be married and married people have children but…. Have you seen the ‘but’ yet? You’re still seeing it all through too-familiar eyes if you haven’t seen the ‘but’. But why does it need God to come and tell me the obvious. There must be more to this than meets the eye. There must be a catch in this. Yes, that’s the trouble when God turns up; there’s more to it that meets the eye. There’s more to come. Are you ready for God to come and speak to you like that?