Psalm 119: I call with all my heart; Lord, hear me. I will keep your commands. I call upon you, save me and I will do your will. I rise before dawn and cry for help. I hope in your word. My eyes watch through the night to ponder your promise.
When the angel spoke on behalf of the Lord to Mary, there had been a long period of silence from God. The time between the Old and New Testaments, from Matthew to Malachi, was about four hundred years, without any known proclamation from God.
Just a long deafening silence.
It probably seemed to the Israelites like the world has been left to fend for itself. All hope is lost.
So, when He finally speaks, He does something that only He would do.
He speaks to a scared, ordinary, teenage girl.
And when He tells her that He will place a seed, a gift, inside her, for her to nurture and love and share with the world, she gives a remarkable answer, though we know she must have been afraid that she was unworthy to bear this alone.
But first, notice what she doesn’t say.
She doesn’t say, “But Lord, I’m just 13.”
She doesn’t say, “I haven’t been very faithful and I’m not very smart.”
She doesn’t say, “I’m just an ordinary girl from an ordinary family.”
She doesn’t give all the excuses that you and I give.
She says, “I am the handmaiden of the Lord. Let it be to me as you have said.”
Let it be to me as you have said.
That probably wouldn’t have been my response.
Those words ring out through the ages as Mary’s song, her Magnificat.
The sin of Adam, which ushered in our suffering and death would be answered by Christ, the suffering Savior, whose kingdom is born in you, through the obedience and the quiet yes of a young girl from Nazareth.
It must have seemed like no time to her that the linens she wrapped her baby in became his grave clothes.
And just like Mary, the shroud that covered you in your dying with Him will become the swaddling clothes with which you offer your love incarnate to the world.
The yes cry of the mother of God would break her heart into a thousand pieces.
And your yes will likely cost you, too.
But the gifts He brings to us as HE remakes us into who we are meant to be can only be had through submitting ourselves to Him in faith.
May we submit like Mary to the gifts of the incarnate Christ—gifts which often come disguised as loss and suffering and the pain of birth.
Mary, who gave birth in agony, who nursed Christ at her breast and followed His path until it lead Him to the cross, where she saw him beaten beyond recognition, the one who cared for His crucified body when He died, then suffered the unthinkable loss of her son so that the kingdom of God might be born in us all.
Mary’s fiat, her “Let it be to me as you have said,” becomes our anthem too, our broken hallelujah poured out on a world dying for redemption.
This gift, this Christ child, growing in you will break you and yet, it will be the means of your healing. It will wreck you and then be the very path to your of your salvation. His body broken will become the bread at His table, where He, Himself will be the pascal Lamb. There, He will join His flesh to your flesh and you will enter into the mysteries of true communion with your Father. There, He nourishes you so that you may rise up from the table, and feed His sheep.
You, my sisters and brothers, are the handmaidens of the Lord.
Advent will usher in the incarnation and CHRIST WITH US will change everything.
Mary, by Patty Griffin