Let it be!

November 5th, 2020

Luke 1:26-38

Luke identifies for us a common Advent story—the familiar work of God through the announcement of the angel and the somewhat surprised and confused response of Mary. The story depicts God as taking the initiative in the human drama only to be misunderstood by the human that God seeks. Such seems to be a common theme among the gospel stories as God’s presence, work, or activity is met with fear, misunderstanding, a sense of mystery, awe, power, and certainly high drama. This story is yet one more example of such an encounter between God’s angel, Gabriel, and Mary, the soon-to-be mother of Jesus.

Advent offers an introduction to a great drama about Gabriel’s announcement and Mary’s response. The story has all the characteristics that make God’s work in the world such a good read. Luke portrays part of how God seeks expression among God’s people by using Gabriel. Angels are messengers and mediators of God’s word and will. Luke uses them regularly in his gospel story as messengers. The message Gabriel delivers to Mary is fourfold. Mary will have a son named Jesus, the child will be the Son of God, the child will sit on the throne of David, and the birth of the child will come to pass via the work of the Holy Spirit of God. It is the same form of the message the angel earlier had for Zechariah. Luke also affirms that nothing with God is impossible.

God initiates contact with people through an angelic announcement. Mary responds by listening, puzzlement, misunderstanding, questions, and eventually faith. Luke’s story we have heard before many times throughout biblical history. Luke retells the ongoing unfolding of God’s salvation history with the world. Yet, Luke tells it with high drama and with simplicity. In a nutshell, God acts in life. Humans are encouraged to listen, question, seek understanding, and dialogue, but ultimately respond with trust and faith to what it is God is seeking to do.

As the church makes its dramatic journey to the manger, this story invites us to respond to God’s initiative once again. As Gabriel appeared to Mary we realize how God comes to us. Such intrusions into our ordered and ordinary life catch us off guard. Still such intrusions into life always demand a response from us. This process offers the opportunity to invite the congregation to examine what it means to be disciples.

When was the last time you were surprised? I remember the day my parents called a family meeting to tell us we were moving. We had lived in our community for six years and were settled. Such news came out of nowhere and caught my sister, my brother, and me completely by surprise. Our lives would never be the same. Such is the stuff of life. Such is the drama of Mary’s new life, altered forever in a moment. Isn’t that the way life is? Isn’t that the way God works?

The real power of this story, however, we find in Mary’s response to what God seeks to do in her life. Despite the surprise, Mary finally comes to that powerful place of acceptance as she responds saying, “Let it be.” In light of all that has transpired, her response is incredible. She provides us an example of how we too might respond to God’s surprises in our own life. The issue for us always, however, is can we just let it be? Often, we need to know and be in control. Can we simply just let it be? Such a faithful response provides us with a living illustration of who we need to be as we too ponder the Bethlehem stable. Without seeking to control or glamorize or add or overanalyze, can we just let the story be what it is this Christmas? Can we allow God to say what needs to be said through this simple birth? Can we step back in awe and wonder of a child and just ponder these things in our hearts and allow God to do what God needs to do with us, in us, and through us? Can we just let it be?

comments powered by Disqus