River City Spokane

Conceiving New Creation: Luke 1:26-38


 

In the sixth month of Elisabeth’s pregnancy, Gabriel the angel was sent from God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man called Joseph, from the family of David. The virgin was called Mary.

 “Greetings, favored one!” said the angel when he arrived. “May the Lord be with you!” She was disturbed at this, and wondered what such a greeting might mean.

“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” said the angel. “You’re in favor with God. Listen: you will conceive in your womb and will have a son; and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be a great man, and he’ll be called the son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever. His kingdom will never come to an end.”

 “How will this happen?” said Mary to the angel. “I’m still a virgin!”

 “The Holy Spirit will come upon you,” replied the angel, “and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. For that is the reason the holy one who is born from you will be called God’s Son.”

“Let me tell you this, too: your cousin Elisabeth, in her old age, has also conceived a son,” —

[Gabriel said this because thus far Elisabeth had kept her pregnancy a secret]. “This is the sixth month for her, a woman who people used to say was barren. With God, you see, nothing is impossible.”

 “Here I am,” said Mary; “I’m the Lord’s servant-girl. Let it happen to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.                                                             

                                                                                                                            Luke 1.26-38

~ This is the Word of the Lord ~ Thanks be to God ~

 Hello, friends. Welcome to Gospel Home Brew — a resource from River City Spokane. Jesus, we ask for eyes to see and ears to hear as you speak to us and brew in your word.

Here is my prayer for us all during this lent season —

That we, like Mary, are open and willing, waiting and watching, praying and preparing for Easter to come. Is this you?

There are many things that we could feed upon from this precious passage of pregnancy and proclamation, but there is one thing I want us to specifically feed upon as we enter into this scene where the God-bearer, Mary, experiences this angelic encounter:

God is conceiving New Creation by conceiving Jesus, the promised King of Israel.

Before we go any further, I want us to notice something that is happening when Mary asks Gabriel, “How will this happen? I’m still a virgin!” — Gabriel’s response is riddled with signposts

pointing back to the Old Testament. Perhaps most important is the way Gabriel speaks of the Holy Spirit: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow (or hover-over) you.” This “overshadowing” / “hovering-over” is undoubtedly a theme that is found in God’s initial creation proclamation recorded in Genesis 1:2, saying, “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” In the same way that our Creator God creatively created creation, he, here and now in Luke chapter 1, is creatively creating a new creation, beginning with Jesus’ conception in the womb of Mary, the servant-girl.

As we ponder upon the power of the Most High God in this scene, we should not be too surprised to see this, especially considering God had just done another unusual creation act by enabling a barren woman, Elisabeth, to conceive and sustain new life within her ‘dry bones.’ Many of us are familiar with child-bearing miracles because of what we have seen in and through the lives of several Old Testament characters; perhaps most notably, in the story of Abraham and Sarah. Just like those of old, this event should not ignite us to be distracted by some sort of scientific skepticism, for if our Creator God cannot create life afresh, then he ceases to be Creator; and if God cannot create, then how can he resurrect? Just as Gabriel declares in this scene, and as we too should declare now: “With God, you see, nothing is impossible.”

Let us not lose sight of the of the significance of this! The Creator who creatively created life in the beginning is creatively creating new life, a new kind of birth, a new creation both then (in Luke’s gospel) and now; the same Creator who scooped up dust from the ground and breathed life into his nostrils, thereby creating man, is the same Creator — yes, the very same Creator — who in John 20:22 breathed life on his disciples and said, “receive the Holy Spirit.” God is conceiving new creation by conceiving Jesus with in the womb of Mary, and it is through this new work of creation that will brith and ultimately fulfill what Jesus taught us to pray for: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.” This is precisely the Easter hope: the hope of resurrection, of restoration, and of liberation. Easter is the victory of the Creator over all evil. Easter is the victory of the God of love over all tyranny and oppression. Easter declares that, after all, God is God, and that his kingdom shall come and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven. If Jesus’ conception in the womb of Mary marks the conception of new creation, then Easter marks the beginning of a world reborn. God is putting the world back to rights, and it is through the conception of his son, Jesus, where he begins this holy revolution.

Do you have a situation in your life in desperate need of Easter to come, yet you find yourself hopeless? Perhaps a friend is sick. Perhaps a marriage is crumbling. Perhaps it is slavery, whether literal or metaphorical. Perhaps it is a vocational pursuit. Perhaps it is, like Elisabeth, barrenness. Perhaps it is financial crisis. Perhaps darkness and suffering have overtaken someone you deeply love. Whatever it is — let us, with holy-boldness, declare that “with God, nothing is impossible,” and pray Easter over that situation / person.

God is conceiving New Creation by conceiving Jesus, the promised King of Israel.

This now brings us to the next topic, a topic that can be applied to us all. As Luke (and Matthew as well) duly notes, this mission, if you will, to be the mother of the messiah was not imposed onto Mary; she was invited into it. How can this be? The angel seems to just tell Mary what is going to happen, as if there is nothing else to be said about it. Right? Yes and no. Mary was chosen to be the God-bearer, but she herself, like Israel was called to be, was open and willing, waiting and watching, praying and preparing for Easter to come. The Lord knew the heart of Mary, so, when the dawning of the new age arrived, he initiated an invitation to Mary to play a particular part in God’s mission to rescue the world. You see, “when God takes the initiative, it is always a matter of love, a love which will care for us and take us up into his saving purposes.

Mary is, to that extent, the supreme example of what always happens when God is at work by grace through human beings” — “Here I am; I’m the Lord’s servant-girl. Let it happen to me as you have said”

May we be ready when the Lord comes to us with a part to play in his mission to rescue the world.

Soon after the scene where Mary encounters the angel, we see her break into a song — perhaps the most beautiful song recorded in Scripture. But what makes Mary break into song like this? What has the news of her son got to do with God’s strong power overthrowing the structures of the world, demolishing the mighty and exalting the humble? Simply put, Mary and Elisabeth shared a dream. It was the ancient dream of Israel: the dream that one day all that the prophets had said said would come true. One day Israel’s God would do what he had said to Israel’s earliest ancestors: all nations would be blessed through Abraham’s family. But for that to happen, the powers that kept the world in slavery had to be toppled. This shared dream sustained their hope through when the dawning of the Messiah-child, the forever-ruling Son of David, would come to rescue and redeem them, just as God did when he rescued them from Pharaoh’s bondage during the time of the Exodus. “Mary and Elisabeth, like so many Jews of their time, soaked themselves in the psalms and prophetic writings which spoke of mercy, hope, fulfillment, reversal, revolution, victory over evil, and of God coming to rescue them at last.” Thus, when Gabriel came to them, and spoke the good news of God’s impending liberation, Mary’s song poured out of her mouth “like a rich, foaming drink that comes bubbling over the edge of the cup and spills out all around.” Underneath it all, Mary’s song is a celebration of God, for God has taken the initiative — God the Lord, the savior, the Powerful One, the Holy One, the Merciful One, the Faithful One. God is the ultimate reason to celebrate.

God is conceiving New Creation by conceiving Jesus, the promised King of Israel.

My wife and I have chosen to “pray Easter” for people during this Lent season; in fact, there are countless untouched areas in our lives we ourselves need this very “Easter” that we are praying for. Now when I say “Easter” I am seeking to convey the idea of praying “resurrection,” or “new life.” In one sense many of us are resurrected already (or at least we are in the process of being resurrected by the grace of God and by his Holy Spirit); however, for some we are praying this resurrection because they are still very dead, having never encountered Jesus and his liberating love.

During this season of Lent, I encourage you to “pray Easter” for those you love, and for those who are lost, and for those who are hurting, and for those who are poor, and for those who are hungry, and for those who are marginalized and persecuted, and for those who are enemies of the cross, and for those who are hungry and thirsty for salvation — hold these brothers and sisters in your minds and hearts before the Lord, and, with compassion and great patience, pray Easter for them. As you do this, be sure to look for signs of hope — the signs of new life, the signs of new creation — around you. You never know, perhaps God will be doing something impossible.

As I mentioned at beginning, my prayer for us is that we, like Mary, are open and willing, waiting and watching, praying and preparing for Easter to come. And when it does, let us too say, “Here I am; I am the Lord’s servant. Let it happen to me as you have said.”

Mary had no idea that she would be the God-bearer who would bring the Creator God into this world; but, because she was open and willing, waiting and watching, praying and preparing, when God invited her on the unexpected journey to be the very mother of God incarnate that she was — she humbly accepted. Perhaps God has an unexpected journey for you — and I would argue that he indeed does — but, in order for us not to miss our opportunity, we need to be open and willing, waiting and watching, praying and preparing so that when he comes and invites us, in his love, to play a part in his drama of resurrecting creation we too, like Mary, will respond — “Here I am; I am the Lord’s servant. Let it happen to me as you have said.”

Let us, like Mary, proclaim the goodness — and the good news — of our God:

Luke 1.46-55

“My heart declares that the Lord is great, My spirit exults in my savior, my God. He saw his servant-girl in her humility;

From now, I’ll be blessed by all peoples to come.

The Powerful One, whose name is Holy, Has done great things for me, for me. His mercy extends from father to son,

From mother to daughter for those who fear him.

 Powerful things he has done with his arm:

He defeated the arrogant through their own cunning, Down from their thrones he hurled the rulers,

Up from the earth he raised the humble.

The hungry he filled with the fat of the land, But the rich he sent off with nothing to eat. He has rescued his servant, Israel his child, Because he remembered his mercy of old, Just as he said to our long-ago ancestors — Abraham and his descendants forever.

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