Advent Devotion – December 21, 2010

Scripture – Luke 1:26–38

2010 Advent Devotion for web The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Palestine, marks the birthplace of Jesus. Pilgrims shuffle through the Byzantine church to wait their turn to enter the cave where Jesus was born. At Christmas we assemble Nativity sets and reenact pageants to commemorate this occasion. We typically focus on the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.

When I entered the cave in the church, I discovered two holy sites. Candles and gold decorated a stone feeding trough that cradled the baby king. The more celebrated site, however, was not the one that we reconstruct at Christmas but the spot where Mary gave birth to Jesus—the place where God became human.

The story of the angel Gabriel’s prophetic visit to Mary shocks us back into the reality of Christmas. The account tells us that Mary was “perplexed,” “pondering,” and “afraid” (vv. 28–29). This pregnancy would be very difficult for her to explain and even harder for others to celebrate. Mary would deliver her baby on the cold cave floor, away from her home and family.
Despite obstacles and improbabilities, Mary takes the angel’s words to heart: “nothing will be impossible with God” (v. 37). The birth of Mary’s baby announces that God is now with us. Not disguising her questions or her fears, Mary demonstrates a faithful response to God’s incarnation: “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (v. 38).

O God, you care for and know my most human moments. Here I am. I am your servant. Even in my doubts, my ponderings, my questions, guide me according to your word, for nothing will be impossible with you. Amen.

Catherine Foster, candidate for ordination, senior student
at Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, Georgia

Order Proclaiming the Good News of God's Peace.

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