I heard a reading of Scripture in a podcast from another Methodist church last week that captured my interest and spoke to me in a new way about this particular passage from Luke 1. Here’s what I heard:
God’s messenger, Gabriel, was sent to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a young woman who was engaged to man named Joseph, who himself was a descendant of the great King David. And the young woman’s name was Mary. And God’s messenger said to her, “Hello you who are full of grace! God is with you!” And she was perplexed by his words and a bit shaken up by them. And Gabriel continued, “Don’t be afraid Mary. God has a special place in his heart for you. Because of that you are going to have a baby, a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.
I’ve been imagining what it might feel like to hear from a messenger of God, “Hello you who are full of grace!” or “God has a special place in his heart for you.”
Those words remind me of what an amazing young girl Mary was. Her nature and her heart must have reflected all the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control). After all, she was the one chosen and trusted by God for this precious and amazing mission, to be the mother of God’s Son, Jesus.
I compared myself to Mary and of course fell short of seeing in myself the nature that God must have noticed in her. I was feeling pretty miserable about myself and the areas that I continue to fail in. And I found myself apologizing to God for not being more like Mary!
And then out of nowhere, it hit me. I sensed God saying something to me and I heard all the words in a different way. ”Hello you who are full of grace! God has a special place in his heart for you.”
And I was reminded. Those words are really not about us.
They’re about God.