Bible Background – Week 13

Only the Gospels of Matthew and Luke tell the story of Jesus’ birth and infancy. Luke tells of the birth of both Jesus and his cousin, John,  – and both are remarkable. John’s mother, Elizabeth, was presumed barren and was “getting on in years.” Mary was a virgin. Luke emphasizes Jesus’ inclusion of women as important.

 

“Do not be afraid” echoes again and again in the Gospel of Luke, including from Jesus himself. We shouldn’t be surprised that God’s ways might seem frightening since they are so different from our own ways. Mary’s response is not fear but perplexity and sensible doubt. “How can this be” she asks when the angel tells her she will have a child. She wants an explanation. When the explanation comes that it is God’s will she is ready and willing to serve. Mary’s devotion and faithfulness reflect a common emphasis in the Gospel of Luke.

 

Through the centuries, Mary’s song has been sung daily in the church. Those denominations and religious groups that sing daily vespers include her song, “The Magnificat,” after the word that begins her song in the Latin translation. Note how clearly the song proclaims God’s power for justice. The proud, the powerful, and the rich are dispersed in favor of those who fear God, the lowly, and the hungry. When the angel tells Mary, “Nothing will be impossible with God,” the angel speaks not only of her pregnancy, but of the justice God promises.

 

The work of the Holy Spirit is another important emphasis in Luke and Acts, also written by the author of Luke. In this story, the Holy Spirit bears the power of God and fills Elizabeth with the knowledge of not only Mary’s pregnancy, but also of its significance.

 

Mary’s pregnancy and call to serve are important examples of what Luke’s Gospel proclaims – that Jesus’ mission is universal. His vocation is the salvation of the whole world, including, perhaps especially, those whom the world puts on the margins – for example, young women such as Mary. By the power of the Holy Spirit, God’s will though Jesus, fulfills God’s promise of justice and peace.

DUE TO THE WEATHER AND CONTINUED RAIN IN THE FORECAST OUTDOOR WORSHIP IS CANCELLED FOR SUNDAY, AUGUST 8 at 7PM