Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – December 31, 2020
And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Luke 1:28-29 (NRSV)
Growing up in church, I learned to approach God through the language of song, specifically songs of yearning and longing for his nearness. “I want to see you,” “I want to know you,” and “You’re all I want” were common phrases that gave voice to this desire. And while these prayers are to be celebrated and encouraged within Christian devotion, I often wonder if, in emphasizing the approachability of Jesus, we’ve failed to properly appreciate his transcendent majesty, the wonder that is God with us?
Each Christmas, we remember the angelic words spoken to the Virgin Mary, words of comfort and great hope. “The Lord is with you.” This is the heart of our prayer as the church, that God would be with us, near to us, filling us with his very life. Yet what do we learn from Mary’s response? Is she flooded with a deep sense of peace and calm? Does she have an emotional response of appreciation and thanksgiving? Does she want to simply linger in this moment? No, no, and no. “She was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.”
If our encounter with God does not reorient and reframe our entire existence, it is highly likely that we’ve encountered something other than God.
The reality of God coming to dwell within Mary left her overwhelmed and undone. As the early Christian preacher St. Peter Chrysologus beautifully put it, “It was by a soothing motion and holy affection that God transformed the virgin into a mother for himself and made his handmaid into a parent. Nevertheless her bosom was disturbed, her mind recoiled, and her whole state became one of trembling when God, whom the whole of creation does not contain, placed his whole Self inside her bosom and made himself a man.”
Mary’s perplexity was not rooted in her failure to grasp or understand the angel’s message. No, it welled up within her as she was overcome by the glory of God drawing near to her in Christ. As we continue to celebrate the joy of the Christmas season, may we ponder in our own hearts the profound mystery of Christ, the fullness of God drawing near to be with us.
Father, thank you that you long to be known and encountered, so much so that you entered into the frailty of human flesh in the birth of your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Meditate today on the mystery and wonder of God with us.
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If our encounter with God does not reorient and reframe our entire existence, it is highly likely that we’ve encountered something other than God. #wisdomhunters #ponder #truth #Jesus
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