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Journeying with Mary

Updated: Dec 24, 2021





Day 1 Today is the first day of our advent journey with Mary. This first week we will be with Mary as she is visited by the Angel of the Lord.


Any normal day An angel just appears How would you react? Luke 1:26-27 "In the sixth month, 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.” Imagine the scene; one day you're going about your normal business. Perhaps you're doing the washing or making breakfast, maybe you're cleaning the house or tending the garden, or just possibly you're at work with your colleagues. It's just a normal day, nothing special or out of the ordinary. But then....... an angel of the lord appears! It sounds straightforward the way Luke says it doesn't it, the angel just appears. Just like that. No big deal. There's no mention of Mary falling over in shock, or having her mouth gaping open, or screaming and running off. She was quite clearly of a stronger constitution than me. But then that's to be expected, after all she was to become the mother of the messiah. Let's put ourselves in Mary's shoes. Imagine a point in your normal day. Me, I'm checking my emails and wondering which ones need dealing with first. What are you up to? And suddenly the angel of the Lord appears in front of you. I can imagine it now, the room would be filled with light and there'd be a person of sorts in the room. I'd definitely drop my laptop, there's no doubt about that. I would like to think that I would stay calm and that I would recognise an angel when one appeared to me. But if I'm honest I'm pretty sure that I would scream and freeze in shock. How do you think you'd react? I trust the gospels but I have to say that I suspect Mary reacted much as we would, how could she not be shocked and fearful. We will never know for sure, but one thing is sure, she didn't run away. Prayer Father as we meet Mary today we try to imagine how she would have felt when your Angel appeared to her. We thank you for her bravery and openness at that time and ask that we might be blessed with the same in our journey's of faith and love with you. Amen.

Day 2





God loves you, yes you You don't need to be afraid God's with you always Luke 1:28-30 ‘The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favoured! 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 favour with God."’ As if it was not enough that an Angel of the Lord appeared to Mary, it then spoke in a language she understood. Greetings, you who are highly favoured Or as no doubt the angel would have said today "Hi, God loves you." Along comes an angel, not something you ever expect to see, and then they greet you as if you know each other, as if it's a totally ordinary conversation to have. If she was not overwhelmed beforehand, this certainly troubled her, as Luke makes clear. I wonder how Mary responded such that Luke would recall that she was greatly troubled and wondered what the greeting was. I'm thinking physical and emotional shock manifesting as knees weakening, words fleeing and eyes opened wide. Put yourself back in the everyday situation we thought of yesterday. I'm in my chair with my laptop on the floor and my mouth agape. I know my own reactions to shock, I loose the power of speech and go stock-still. And then the angel speaks again; "Don't be afraid, God loves you especially", or words to that effect. Me? Really? You seriously mean me? There must be a mistake. I'm nothing special, I'm just me. The thing is we each are known and loved especially by God, maybe we are not called in such a dramatic way as Mary, but we are loved just as we are. This is the focus of today, to remind ourselves that Mary had to come to terms with being chosen; and so must we. Prayer Father, help us hear your voice. Give us faith through our loneliness when you seem far away, and joy in your love when we know you are close by at our sides. Lord, we know you are always with us, let us know this inwardly in our lives and follow you wherever you lead us. Amen.



Day 3





You will have a child

The impossible made real

A boy named Jesus


Luke 1:31

"You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus"


Today we look at the crux of Mary's calling; she will be the mother of a son. Of course that doesn't sound particularly special, especially in today's society.


But let's go back 2000 years. Mary is unmarried, a girl from a good home, betrothed to a man she will soon marry. She is a virgin, she has kept herself clean and she knows she can not be with child. Her emotions must have been all over the place.


Worry about whether she understood right.

Fear about how her family and Joseph will react.

Concern over the reaction of society, who normally shun unmarried mothers.


Add to that the pure and simple unbelievability that she is carrying a boy child and she must have been close to fainting.


And why this specific name?

Would Mary have seen the link to the prophecies of her race?

Would she have started to put two and two together?


I am sure she was a faithful servant of God and knew her scripture well, but when put in a shocking situation do any of us manage to join the dots successfully?


Let's return to our scenario.

Are you on your knees yet? I'm stuck, dumb-struck in my chair.


I know some of the impossibility she would have felt. I felt it when I came to realise that I was called into ministry. And I had none of the worries about family and societal condemnation. Imagine how Mary would have felt being told she was to have a child out of wedlock, poor Mary, she must have been scared witless.


Prayer

Father as Mary would have felt fear of her family's response to such amazing news, so we worry about what society thinks of our faith. By following you we turn away from many societal norms and try to live the life you wish for us. Give us strength in the face of our uncertainty and fear and judgement of others, as you gave Mary as she faced her family with such impossible and threatening good news. Amen




Day 4



God calls each of us

Precious tasks within our lives

Leads us all the way


Luke 1:32-33

"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 the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”


As if it wasn't enough that an angel appeared, spoke and told Mary she would have a baby; now she is told that this same baby will be the greatest of all babies, God himself. I wonder if she's even taking anything in at this point. Let's look at the words themselves.


"He will be called the Son of the Most High"


Mary would have known that the Most High was referring to God. No longer was this a task, it was a mission and a half.


"The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, his kingdom will never end"


As part of a Jewish family Mary would have known, as part of her basic religious education, that the house of David was the line of royalty from which all rulers of the people of Israel came. She would have realised that this mission was to carry and birth the next King of her people. The King!


Let's take ourselves back into our own imaginings again; we are Mary, visited by an Angel, told we will have a miraculous pregnancy and now that the boy born will be the next king. This is like being told that a spaceship will fly down from the sky, land in the back garden and require us to be the translators for the entire human race.


Do you fancy that task?

How would you feel?


Prayer

Father of all, you tasked Mary with the greatest task on Earth, you trusted her to carry out your precious mission and never fail along the way. We feel so humbled as we journey with Mary and are reminded that we each have our own mission. As we journey we ask for your reassurance and strength. Amen.




Day 5




How do I do this?

You are never alone

Know God is with you


Luke 1:34-35

How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon 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.


Finally we hear from Mary. She is dumb struck no longer, although I find it hard to imagine she was silent until now, but I bow to the knowledge of the Gospel writers. And let's give her the credit she deserves, she asks the pertinent question…. How?


The angel was not worried, not disturbed by the question; not insulted or affronted. In seemingly simple words the angel explained that the "power of the most high will come upon you". You will notice that these are slightly different words than included in the NIV translation; Mary would know nothing about the Holy Spirit since it arrived on Earth many years later at Pentecost, but she would have recognised God's power.


That's reassuring!

You've been visited by an angel, told you're special.

Told you're going to have a baby who will be the King of your race.

And now you're told that it will happen by the power of God coming upon you.

Feeling calm?


I think I'd have a whole load more questions like how? When? Where? But that's my own failings and thankfully I know God is always with me, just as God was with Mary.


Prayer

Father you know us each and love us for what we are and what we are able to do. You knew Mary could and would cope, you know what each of us can cope with and we ask to have more faith in this when we are faced with things we worry about. Amen




Day 6




Through every day

Nothing is impossible

But might look different


Luke 1:36-37

Even Elizabeth, your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”


Yes, even Elizabeth is now able to have a baby. She who has been trying for so many years and has been barren is now pregnant and in her sixth month. What a miracle. That just shows what God can do.


This was also a powerfully soothing thing to tell Mary. She was close to her cousin Elizabeth and it must have been reassuring to be told that they were in this miracle business together, and that they'd have babies close together. This was God in his true caring father role.


As we near the end of this week with Mary and her visit from the angel we might feel like we've been through the ringer. We've been shocked, floored, told the impossible, promised the powerful, explained the miraculous and given the best news possible. We've been taken full circle through an emotional cycle and are almost ready to settle down.


Prayer

Father you know just what to say and do when we are at the end of our ability to cope, thank you for your fathering of us. Amen.




Day 7




I trust you oh God

To lead me where I'm needed

Today, every day


Luke 1:38

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.


Five small words from Mary; one huge commitment, one life changing decision for us all.


Mary, in the visit of one angel, for possibly an hour at the most, went from the shock of her life to the acceptance that she would birth God's son, the king of her people.


Well done Mary.

And well done us for making it through the first week of advent.


We have started the journey towards Christmas, accepting the shock of God's call on our lives and realising the blessing that it is if we follow Him.


Prayer

Father we thank you for Mary and for her day with your angels, this one encounter brought about the salvation of us all, we owe all we are to that process. Amen.



Day 8



Welcome to week two of this advent journey with Mary. This week we look at how Mary followed directions, and cope when she had to follow directions given to others.


Holy spirit moves

In and around us, through love

Friendship, family


Luke 1:39-45

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”


Mary and Elizabeth as cousins would have been close, even when separated by distance. Mary would have been thrilled with the prospect of seeing Elizabeth and sharing her great news, and allowing Elizabeth to share with her. No doubt Mary also realised she could be of use to Elizabeth who would likely find pregnancy hard in her advanced years. (I dread to think what advanced years meant, perhaps only in her thirties?)


The gospel of Luke tells us that Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit upon seeing Mary; Jesus' presence made her baby leap for joy. There was always a connection between Jesus and John the Baptist, a connection of love and ministry in the coming about of God's action in the world.


Now let's think about what else might have been going on at this time.


Mary would no doubt have been relieved to have been able to journey to see Elizabeth and away from the prying and judging eyes of her community. Perhaps she had told her parents and Joseph of her pregnancy and it was not received with joy or understanding. We do not know; but the affirmation of Elizabeth would have been a comfort beyond all at this time. Mary stayed with Elizabeth for some considerable time, time during which Mary helped Elizabeth and time when her family and Joseph could come to terms with the miraculous events.


Prayer

Dear Lord, we are thankful that Mary had Elizabeth with whom to share her joy and concerns about her pregnancy; and we celebrate the connection between Jesus and John the Baptist from before their births. We remember today those friends who are always there for us, and the fact that you remain available to us and fully present whenever we need. Amen




Day 9