Most of us know that Jesus was born of a virgin. At our house we consider this a miracle along the same vein as me fixing Christmas dinner without burning the house down or that all of my offspring have survived to adulthood after enduring my cooking for 18 years. It’s a marvel. Their father is certain he’s been poisoned at intervals but with no evidence, what’s a man to do?
Perhaps not everyone realizes that Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel, who was sent by God six months earlier to Zachariah to tell him that his wife Elizabeth would have a son. The Bible states that when Gabriel appeared, “Zacharia was troubled and fear fell upon him.” I can imagine. Don’t you think “troubled” is an understatement? How about “freaked?” And that encounter went about as well as could be expected. Zachariah was stricken mute for nine months due to his denial he’d have a son, and for his disbelief that God would do it, because Elizabeth was, in Zachariah’s words, “well stricken in years.” Gar could say that about me, and I’d have no choice but to let him, even though the truth hurts, but I’ll let you in on a secret; it’d be the last words he ever uttered, not that I hold a grudge.
When God sent Gabriel to tell Zachariah the news, and it wasn’t a good outcome, I’m thinking, when God told the angel he was sending him to Mary, Gabriel must have wanted to whine, “Ya, uh, about that God, geez-oh-man, I’m not a great messenger. People react badly.” God would have said, “Oh, Gabe, don’t be dramatic, think happy thoughts. Shut thee complaining trap and go tell Mary her news.”
The first thing Gabriel said to Mary was “Hail” as in “Peace be with thee, don’t get a pistol.” I’m kidding. This was 4 BC and she’d have had to wait till 1836 for Samuel Colt to build one. Then Gabriel said, “Thou art highly favored,” which more or less was, “God saw your heart and you’re the recipient of grace and I’m trying to butter you up for what I’m about to spring on you.” He went on, “The Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women.” He was telling her, “God sees you and has blessed you, you’re going to conceive, have a son, and I beg of you, put down that rolling pin, it’s all good, I promise.”
The Bible says, “When she saw him, Mary was troubled at what he was saying.” Troubled at what he was saying? What about the fact that he was an angel appearing? Call me crazy, but I think the Bible again downplayed that by far. Here she is, minding her own business, smoothing out dough for a cherry tart, when all of a sudden, an angel pops into the kitchen for a chat. I’m kind of thinking her reaction would have been the same as anyone witnessing an angel appearing. She’d have cursed like a sailor and jumped over the moon. Maybe I’m the only one who would have cursed but remember, she was a teenager, so she’d have been in high maintenance mode. Gabriel would have had to talk her down off the roof and then be forced to listen to her high-pitched squeal, in decibels unknown to man’s hearing threshold. She possibly could have been screaming in unladylike fashion, “What? I’m not even married! I’m barely engaged. I’m going to be gossip fodder. I won’t be able to go to the mall. I’ll be forced to shop at Wal-Mart, or worse, K Mart, if I can find one, with all of them going out of business. I’ll be a scandal.”
Actually, she was so in love with God, and so trusting, she didn’t react negatively. After the initial “start” she was compliant and at peace. Unlike me, she was a good person. I’d have unloosed my tongue and railed on God about every negative thing that had ever happened, starting with losing my front teeth at 6 years old. The neighbor kid teased me unmercifully because I couldn’t speak without a lisp. I’d sang, “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth” but no, God made me endure nearly a year without them, which is why I’d been forced to use a cat o’ nine tails on the neighbor kid.
God bless you and Merry Christmas. Count your blessings – starting with, you don’t have to endure being my neighbor. n
Contact Trena Eiden at [email protected]