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, favoured 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 favour 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 for ever, 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.
How, I wonder would we have reacted if we had been in Mary's shoes, not only to someone claiming to be a messenger from God but to such life changing news? Even in our modern world it's a hard thing for many young women to come home and tell their parents yet alone their fiancé that they are unexpectedly pregnant. How much harder for Mary, a good Jewish girl in Old Testament Israel, the possible reactions and punishments were terrifying, proof of her innocence was utterly impossible for her and everything was on the line. What thoughts must have run through her mind? What terror possessed her?
What doubts raced across her thoughts? No one will ever know! Because Mary's response is calm, simple, faith filled, "I am the Lord's servant, may your word to me be fulfilled.". No questions, no fear, no hesitation, only faith, a faith beyond question in a God beyond doubt. Would we have said the same? How often has God called us to a task that was hard, frightening, even potentially dangerous? When he does call, do we leap at the opportunity without so much as a thought to the dangers or difficulties it creates or worrying about how it might inconvenience our lives and plans? This young girl is already a woman of deep faith, ready to entrust her entire life to her God and face whatever lies ahead with him, sure in the knowledge that he is in control. May we too find the faith to proclaim ourselves the Lord's servants ready to give our all and risk our everything in service of him.
Father, when you call us to your service,
May we set aside our fears
And find within ourselves the faith of Mary,
A faith that does not question
A faith to conquer all fear
A faith that declares whole heartedly
I am the Lord's servant, may your word to me be fulfilled