‘Let it be to me according to your word’ Lk 1:38
Bethlehem is on the horizon; our Advent journey will soon be over.
Roughly 2000 years have passed since Abram said ‘Yes’ to God and set off on a journey into the unknown. The journey has had its ups and downs: moments of promise, moments of despair. En route we have encountered men and women of God, whose words still echo down the centuries to challenge us today. Now, as we approach Bethlehem, we encounter one more character: Mary, the lady whose nine-month journey mirrors 2000 years of history.
“Greetings favoured one, The Lord is with you.” Who is this? What could any Lord want of a young girl, in a small village, on the edge of the Empire? God’s plan for the whole of creation is about to come to fruition, and to make it happen he has just chosen a young girl who, in the great worldly scheme of things, is a nobody. The implications of Mary’s pregnancy – risk to life, reputation and marriage – have been well rehearsed and don’t need repeating here. When Mary said ‘Let it be to me according to your word’ she was stepping out into a future that must have looked every bit as uncertain, every bit as challenging as the future that Abram stepped out into 2000 years earlier. Like Abram, through all the ups and downs of the journey, she kept faith in God, and he in her.
In a few days’ time we too will arrive once more in Bethlehem to witness afresh the birth of a new age. As we gaze on the familiar scene, it is easy to forget that these are all ordinary people, people like you and I, going about their ordinary business; but doing so in response to God’s call.
As we gaze once more in wonder, as we ponder what 2021 may have in store, let us remember ordinary people like Mary who trusted. God guided them through the challenges their call presented, he honoured their faith. Be encouraged, when we trust, he will honour our faith as well.
Rev Philip Payne
The Pew Sheet for 20th December can be found in Downloads