Thursday, December 18, 2014
There are many adjectives we might associate with being a person of faith:
comfort, serenity, peace, certainty, joy…terror?
The first words out of the angel Gabriel’s mouth are: Do not be afraid.
Angels are always saying “Do not fear” when they reveal themselves to humans in scripture.
Forget what you’ve seen in the greeting card aisle. Angels are terrifying to behold, and they know it.
And the most terrifying thing about them is the message they deliver.
God is calling. God has a plan. God wants you to take part.
Mary already knows from the stories of her faith,
that when God comes calling there is good reason to be afraid.
God’s call is life changing. The plan is never easy, or simple, or pleasant. More often than not, the path leads straight into danger and right on through suffering.
God calls on the “wrong” people to take part:
People who are unprepared.
People who are not particularly notable, except in maybe what they lack.
People who often refuse and run away.
But God will not listen to reason. God will not accept excuses.
Groveling or bargaining will not get you out of it.
And yet, Mary also knows from her ancestors in the faith that God works through the ordinary to do extraordinary things. God is up to the task, even when God’s people are not. And time and again, God brings forth blessing from the most unexpected of places and by the most perplexing of means.
But just in case she had forgotten all this, Gabriel reminds her, “Nothing will be impossible with God.”
And so it is with great measures of both faith and fear that Mary responds, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”
To respond to God’s call with a trembling voice and shaking hands—this is what it means to have faith.
To be afraid is to get it—to really be paying attention to what God is asking.
And to respond is to trust—to act in the hope of a power that will eventually overcome all that is to be feared.
The Angel’s message is not just for Mary.
All servants of the Lord are called to take part in bringing Christ into the world, no matter how frightened we may be.
In your faith and fear, may you also find the voice to respond, “Here am I.”