“…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 favored! 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 favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Luke 1: 26-35

This scripture is beautiful to me. As a little girl, I awed at the majesty of the angel approaching Mary and honor bestowed upon her this night. Imagine, an angel of the Lord speaking so clearly, boldly and with an assignment from God. I mean, WOW! However, as I’ve aged, this story, although majestic, has found a place in my heart of reverence and compassion for Mary and what must have been happening in her heart and mind.

Although Mary’s pregnancy was planned and foretold, I assume from Mary’s perspective, this was not part of the ‘plan’. She was young, she wasn’t married to Joseph yet, she had a lot of life ahead of her and a path tightly paved by culture and tradition. To hear an angel’s message of an assignment by God that will alter her world (and the whole world), the way she knew it be, had to be terrifying.

The scripture describes Mary as ‘troubled’ by the angel’s greeting. Could that be because she knew in her heart something big was about to happen? That in this very moment nothing would ever be the same? But the angel calmed her heart with the words, “Do not be afraid…” For me, words are usually not enough to calm the fear pumping through my veins. There had to be something about the presence of the angel that brought such peace the initial fear she felt was melted away in the first few seconds of the encounter.

Then, there’s that next statement, the reason why the angel appeared to her. “you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

Ummm. Say what? I just cannot imagine my response to this announcement. The enormous weight of this call upon my life would be more than I could take. Mary simply inquires as to ‘how’ since she is a virgin, the angel explains, and Mary answers:

…“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.”  Luke 1:38

Oh Mary, how must you be feeling after that encounter? Exhilarated, amazed, overwhelmed, afraid, and possibly isolated. Such a mixture of emotions that she may not have known which way to turn or go next.

There are parallels to what so many women facing an unplanned pregnancy today are feeling. That mix of hope and fear, love and loss, purpose and unknown. All of these things are earthly emotions natural for anyone to experience when something comes upon them such as this. But the truth is, no pregnancy is unplanned to God even though it may be for us. Every human life has a glorious purpose in this world and is loved by God from the moment of conception.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5

We can look to Mary for her faithfulness in God’s promises to her. For her ability to courageously say, “Ok Lord, I will do whatever you call me to no matter planned or unplanned, hard, or crazy it may seem. That kind of faith and trust is what I long for. This Christmas season, we can experience Mary saying ‘yes’ to God in a new way. In a way that encourages us to say ‘yes’ to feel what she feels and say ‘yes’ anyway. Pure trust and abandon for our God who has bigger and better plans than we could ever conjure up for ourselves.

Father, thank you for sending your son to this world as a baby. A pregnancy that was unplanned by Mary but totally planned by you. I thank you for the heart of Mary and her faithfulness to say ‘let it be done unto me’. Lord, let it be done unto us. I pray that we hold the plans for our lives loosely. That like Mary, we can say ‘yes’ to you when you call upon us to serve your purposes. Amen.