Devotions for Luke 1:26-49
December 12-18, 2016
Monday, December 12, 2016
“The angel Gabriel was sent by God” (Luke 1:26).
God is in the sending business. God sent Gabriel to announce to Mary that she was favored to be the mother of God’s son. Before Gabriel received his call, God had sent many others. For example, God sent Moses to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt into the Promised Land. The prophet Isaiah was sent by God to speak the word of the Lord to God’s people. After Gabriel God sent John the Baptist to prepare the way and to make the paths straight, and Jesus sent his disciples to make disciples of all nations. A fine tradition of sending has been established.
It is important for us to acknowledge this truth us as we continue our Advent preparations. We didn’t just show up today. Wherever we are and wherever we go we have been sent. Just like Gabriel, Moses and John the Baptist, we are where we are for a purpose. We have been sent to be servants of the Lord and to share God’s word with the people around us.
Patient Lord, we sometimes forget what our purposes are in life. Like so many before us, you have gathered us together into your family and then sent us out into the world. Help us to remember and to serve. Amen.
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
“’Greetings, favored one’” (Luke 1:28)!
Last week the United States commemorated the seventy-fifth anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The word “hero” was used frequently and it usually referred to those who lost their lives during the attack. Most of us would like to hope that we would have the qualities to act heroically should the need ever arise, but heroism comes at a great price.
Decades and centuries after the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would bear a child and become the mother of God’s son, people called her favored—even lucky. Certainly Mary’s obedience to God’s call and her child, Jesus, brought her great joy. There were also many times, though, of suffering and pain. Mary was branded as an adulteress and threatened with execution. She struggled with Jesus growing up as a “special” child. Mary saw those who rejected her son’s teachings and she stood at the foot of the cross when Jesus died.
Like Mary we are favored, but not because of our wealth, fame or power. We live abundant and free lives because God has called us God’s own and we walk with God. We are blessed because God has gathered us into God’s family, given us a purpose in life and sent us out on a mission. God’s actions do not necessarily grant us easy lives, but we can’t imagine, nor would we want our lives to be any different. We are favored.
Wonderful Lord, we are precious in your sight—favored. Empower us so that we are able to live out our blessedness in such ways that others experience your love and grace. Amen.
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
“’Do not be afraid’” (Luke 1:30).
“Do not be afraid,” is the most frequent command in the Bible. Like many things in our spiritual journeys, it is more easily said than done. Fear does not go away by simply repeating the mantra, “We won’t be afraid, we won’t be afraid.” Nor are our fears necessarily put to rest by looking to our own talents and strengths and saying, “We’ve got this covered.”
Our fear is turned into courage when we divert the focus of our attention away from that which we fear. Not pausing to appreciate our own strengths, we turn our attention to God’s presence and power. The Holy Spirit uses these to give us strength and peace. Outwardly, we may also be aware of the presence of our brothers and sisters in Christ who “have our backs.” Together we are able to face life with trust and hope.
Holy Spirit, help us to keep our attention on you rather than the frightening things that surround us. Amen.
Thursday, December 15, 2016
“’His kingdom will have no end’” (Luke 1:33).
When Gabriel proclaimed that, “His kingdom will have no end,” he was referring to the covenant that God made with David over one thousand years before Gabriel appeared to Mary. The Lord had acted unilaterally and declared that a descendant of David’s would always rule. This covenant was not based on David’s actions, but rather on God’s decision. Now, hundreds of years after the covenant was first made, God was renewing the covenant God first made with David through Jesus.
Earthly kingdoms, nations and empires have all come and gone. The Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Greek, Roman and even the Holy Roman Empire are all no more. Only God’s kingdom continues. It is not like the nations of this world with geographic boarders and locations that are identified by Google Maps. God’s kingdom is comprised of God’s presence and rule in the lives of God’s people. Because it is a kingdom based on God’s decision to make a covenant with us rather than our actions, we can never be separated from God’s kingdom.
Handel’s “Messiah” clearly proclaims this truth, “And he shall reign forever and ever! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!”
King of kings, rule in our lives and empower us to be your faithful and obedient subjects. Amen.
Friday, December 16, 2016
“’For nothing will be impossible with God’” (Luke 1:37).
David Copperfield does the impossible—or at least it appears that he does. He regularly makes elephants and planes disappear and moves people through thin air from one container to another. There are times when we discuss the truth that nothing is impossible for God, that we limit God to what appears to be feats of magic—cures of terminal diseases, surviving disasters and solving hopeless situations.
Certainly, God is capable of accomplishing these extraordinary and beyond nature happenings. God isn’t limited to physical miracles, though. The Holy Spirit works in our lives and shapes us into God’s image. We begin to bear some of the fruits of the Spirit—love, joy, peace and patience. Some people (especially those who know us well) might consider that a miracle. At other times, people are able to love the unlovable and forgive the unforgivable. All are miracles. When God is present in our lives and in the world, truly nothing is impossible.
Powerful God, forgive us when we limit you and see you only where we want to see you. Open our eyes so that we can see clearly and be amazed. Amen.
Saturday, December 17, 2016
“Then Mary said, “Here I am, the servant of the Lord’” (Luke 1:38
Carlos and four friends from the congregation, of which he was a member were, enjoying a casual breakfast together. The conversation turned to their lives of faith. During the discussion, Carlos shared that he came to faith when he was a teenager. One of his friends responded in a kidding manner, “Really? What have you done since then?” The question took Carlos by surprise, but it started him thinking. Lamar, another member of the group, offered that he entered into a relationship with God through baptism when he was an infant. “The same question goes for you,” his friend responded, this time a little more seriously. “What have you done since then?”
For hundreds of years, Christians have limited their faith walks. All they needed to do, they thought, was to believe certain religious teachings. At the end of her encounter with the angel, Gabriel, Mary didn’t respond by saying, “I believe everything you told me,” and then return home as if nothing happened. No, indeed! Mary responded by affirming that she was a servant of God who was intent on doing what God asked of her. The disciples didn’t remain in the upper room after the Day of Pentecost. Filled with the Holy Spirit, they begin to proclaim the good news and share God’s love and grace.
Rejoicing that God has begun a relationship with us, we affirm that we are God’s servants. As followers of Jesus and servants of God, our goal is to accomplish the good works for which God created us (Ephesians 2:10)—not for our salvation but rather to glorify God.
Here we are, Lord. We are your servants. Use us! Amen.
Sunday, December 18, 2016
“’He has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant’” (Luke 1:48).
Abraham Lincoln once said, “God must like common people, because he made so many of them.” God not only likes common people, but God also uses them. Mary found that out. She was a young girl living in the backwater town of Nazareth with no trophies, perfect attendance pins or placement on the principal’s list. Yet, in spite of her lack of credentials, God used her in a great way. Mary isn’t the only one, either. There’s little David, the shepherd boy, who was chosen to be king. Jeremiah complained that he was too young and no one would respect him when God called him to be a prophet. The lowly shepherds became the first evangelists when the angel appeared and proclaimed the birth of a savior. Common, ordinary people accomplished great things when empowered by the Holy Spirit.
What great news for us! Few of us are rich, famous, powerful or overly talented. We are just common, ordinary people—the people God loves and uses. As God has used the unremarkable, in the past, so God will use us to accomplish great things. Glory be to God!
Wonderful Lord, thank you that you have decided to use us—common people—to share the good news and to demonstrate your love and grace to those around us. Amen.