This year there’s so much uncertainty and difficulty, but within this time of crisis there’s an invitation to look up to God, to look for where he is and to listen for what he’s saying. When we look up we begin to discover hope and this is what happens for Mary.
The context of this story and Mary’s situation is different to ours but is also very difficult, the people of God hadn’t heard from him for 400 years and their homeland is occupied by the Roman forces. But she probably felt similar to us at this time, disorientated, didn’t want to be in the situation of being occupied by the Romans (like us with Coronavirus) and felt like it was messing with her life.
How do the people in this advent story respond to the hope that Angel Gabriel declares?
First the two husbands, who respond with disbelief and disqualification:
- Zachariah responds with disbelief. When told by the angel his wife will be having a baby, he says ‘how can I be sure of this?’ Even though he’s got an angel in front of him. Maybe we feel disbelief when we hear that we’re called to carry hope, as things feel barren and difficult.
- Joseph responds with a sense of disqualification. Because Mary’s a virgin, her being pregnant will cause disgrace, so he’s going to disqualify this moment because he thinks it’s impossible. We may also feel like this is an impossible situation, it may feel impossible to carry hope at this time.
Second are the wives, who respond with favour and faith:
- Elizabeth responds with favour. Despite the fact that her pregnancy was difficult, having to be secluded for 5 months etc. she still declared that God has given her favour. Elizabeth didn’t think this would be possible to have a child, but because of God’s favour this is possible and maybe we feel the same, we think it’s not possible for us to carry hope right now with so many difficult circumstances around us. Encourage you to take hold of the favour of God and though these things will feel difficult, because of God’s favour you can carry hope today.
- Mary responds with faith. Mary saying ‘I am your servant’ to this message immediately begins to impact the world around her and when we say yes to the favour of God and say to him ‘I am your servant’, the world around you begins to transform, even if we don’t know how it’ll work. In v41 when Mary visits Elizabeth the baby leaped at Mary’s greeting. The baby knew that the baby Mary was carrying isn’t just hope for that moment but it’s hope for the entire world.
God’s call to each of us is that we would have hope in us today and carry hope to a world that desperately needs it. There are so many reasons to carry disbelief and to disqualify ourselves, but take hold of favour and faith before God. His desire is that when we’re at work, with friends, in the park etc. that like Mary, our greeting would bring about the power of God and be a sign of hope to those around you.
Hope Heals – as we carry Jesus we’ll bring healing to those around us.
Hope Holds – we’ll carry his comfort to a world that needs comforting in their grief and loss
Hope Heralds – we’ll bring a different message that Jesus is with us and is with us today.
We also have to understand that true hope hinges on the Holy Spirit, when we’re carrying hope, ultimately what we’re carrying is the power of Jesus Christ at work in us by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Call you to carry hope, hope to take hold of favour and faith, so that we can declare the power of God to the world around us.