Wednesday, December 21, 2016
by Kathy Morse
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 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. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
A young and innocent Mary marvels at the news from the angel Gabriel that she is favored by God and will bear a son whose “kingdom will never end.” The possibility that such an event could take place must have been beyond belief to her, but she accepts this news and says, “I am the Lord’s servant.”
The story of his humble birth in Bethlehem is a miracle we cherish. God creates new life, generation after generation through us. He sent his son to live as we live, to suffer as we suffer, and to save us from our sins. This sleeping child will grow up and be faced with temptation and pain, he will teach and instruct, perform miracles and defy death.
The story of the Christ Child is celebrated in songs and anthems, and music of the season brings us joy. For the Chancel Choir, rehearsals for advent begin while pumpkins are still be carved. One of our favorites this year is a new “Lullaby” by Daniel Elder, University of Georgia graduate who went on to Westminster Choir College.
He describes his composition as “a simple song of reassurance, as a mother may sing to her child to stave off a fear of the darkness and solitude of night.” He adds that the text “also serves to comfort those who grieve over loss.”
We know that we are not alone in the darkness of night or of our eventual death when “trial is done, all danger gone; now let far dreaming take you away.” As we consider the miracle of the birth of the Baby Jesus we also think ahead to his death and resurrection and await what was foretold.