Bible Reading: Luke 1:26-31
In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. 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 conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.
The bible talks about meeting angels unawares. There are a couple of times when Helen and I think we met an angel. On one of them we were walking in the Peak District and were slightly lost; you can’t get really lost in the Peak District, but we had lost the path and didn’t quite know where we were. As we looked around we saw a woman who simply said, ‘You need to go that way’, and when we looked again she had gone. We did as she said and got back onto our path.
What do you think of Mary, the mother of Jesus? The bible tells us that the angel Gabriel visited her and told her she was ‘highly favoured’. Whilst not all Christian denominations hold Mary in the same regard, most would see her as someone very special, and very important in the plans and purposes of God. But what was it that made Mary special?
The word in the original text that is translated ‘highly favoured’ has its roots in the word ‘Charis’ which is usually translated ‘grace’ or ‘gift from God’. I think the sense of Mary being ‘highly favoured’ is about the grace or favour that God bestowed on her, rather than some intrinsic goodness within her. Mary didn’t earn God’s favour; she was blessed by God purely and simply because God chose to bless her.
Are you aware that you too are highly favoured by God, that he wishes to pour out his grace on you? God’s love for you is unconditional and unending and you are highly favoured, not for anything you have done, but simply for who you are, for who God created you to be.
God’s purpose for Mary was that, through the Holy Spirit, she would conceive a son who would be the Saviour of the world; the name Jesus means ‘Saviour’ or ‘Deliverer’.
When you put your faith in Jesus, God conceived new life in you, through his Holy Spirit, life with a purpose and plan, life that needs nurturing. Christian discipleship is about nurturing the new life within us and allowing it to grow, to flourish and to produce fruit. We do that though prayer, through bible reading, through worship, through the work of the Holy Spirit and through teaching.
What has God conceived in you? If you are not sure, ask him to show you.
God has created something beautiful in you, how might you nurture it and help it to grow?
Create in me a clean, clean heart Create in me a work of art Create in me a miracle Something real and something beautiful.
Create in me a clean heart