Welcome to Wine and the Word Wednesday – the Birthday Edition! Yes, today is my birthday and I can’t think of a better way to spend a part of my time today than continuing to explore Luke, glass of wine in hand. The weather has begun to cool down and there are definite indications of fall. The cardinals are losing their bright summer red in favour of a muted brick red. Football is making its presence felt. All of which means the season for dry rosés is behind us and it’s time to return to richer red wines. However, since it’s my birthday, my wonderful husband has opened a special bottle of cava from a winery we enjoyed visiting on our honeymoon. If you haven’t tried Spain’s version of sparkling wine, I highly recommend it!
This evening I’m reading verses 26 through 38 of chapter 1. This describes how Mary finds out she’s going to be the mother of Jesus. If like me you grew up around church, this is one of those stories that you’ve heard more than a few times. It’s exactly this kind of story that led me to understand the value of reading several versions of the bible. I want to find ways to make well-known stories fresh, to bring a new set of eyes to what I’m reading, to learn more about the example God is giving and how I can best reflect that example, that image, as I live my life.
The first thing that stands out to me is the direct comparison Luke is including between Elizabeth, the old woman becoming pregnant well past her child bearing years, and Mary, the young woman becoming pregnant before she’s even had sex. Both of them dependent on God’s plan and purpose, even though they aren’t told all the details of the plan. For Elizabeth surrendering to God’s plan will have the effect of removing her shame in the community. For Mary surrendering to God’s plan will have the double effect of bringing her disgrace and honour, pain and joy.
The next thing that stands out to me is the comparison of an older priest who is unable to believe God’s announcement and a young teenager simply accepting and surrendering to God’s plan. Zacharias hears an announcement from the angel telling him of the miraculous birth of a son. Because he’s unable to believe, he’s given a sign….he loses his ability to speak. Mary hears a similar announcement from the angel telling of the miraculous birth of a son. She accepts his announcement and only asks how it will happen in view of her circumstances. The angel gives a beautiful description of the Holy Spirit hovering over her which calls to mind the description of the Spirit hovering over the waters at creation, as well as the traditional Jewish description of the Spirit hovering over the holy of holies where God’s presence lived with His people. Then Mary is also given a sign….that her older relative, Elizabeth, is six months pregnant….with the assurance that nothing is impossible with God. I love the TNIV translation in verse 37, “For no word from God will ever fail.”
What can I learn from Mary’s experience that helps me better reflect God’s image? No explanation is given for why God chooses Mary, just that He does. Mary doesn’t ask for an explanation of why He’s choosing her, she just accepts it. My takeaway from this is that I should be about the regular business of life, but never lose my expectation that at any moment God may interrupt my life with His plan and my best choice is always to surrender to that plan. Surrender is not a word we’re comfortable with in our culture and yet seems to be something that is very much a part of following Christ’s example. The more I can learn to surrender to God, the better I will be able to reflect His image well.
That’s it for today. I’m off to continue the birthday celebrations. Enjoy the rest of your evening!