Strange Appearances. Christmas, 2017
12/10/2017 9:56:00 PM
Ask for the impossible!

sk for the Impossible! Christmas, 2017.  
~>Taken at the Church of the Annunciation~Nazareth, Israel. Nov. 2016

Have you ever had someone show up un-announced, and take you totally off guard?
Can you possibly imagine what it was like for this teen-aged girl?
"Ave, Maria", the angel Gabriel said to Mary, or "Greetings, Mary!" Though she had never been intimate with a man, Luke records this unusual occurrence when Mary is told, 'you are going to have a son--a holy son--the one and only Son of God. You are highly esteemed by God, and this is how it will happen ...' 
Stop right there.  We easily slide over the words because they are quite familiar, but this was nothing short of remarkable. First, there is the appearance and message delivered by an angel, and his message was that as a virgin, 'Mary is to bear a child, and that child is the Son of God'?!
This was the fulfillment of a prophecy written by the prophet Isaiah more than 700 years earlier: "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: the virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.1" This was just one of 61 major prophecies about Jesus, which Jesus fulfilled to the letter. 
Gabriel's concluding comment to Mary is so powerful:                                                            Nothing is impossible with God.  Not then. Not now. 
After asking, 'but how could this be?' May Mary's soulful response be mine, "I am the Lord's servant, may it be to me as you have said." So very young, and already so full of faith, trusting God's goodness. [Am I that way with God?  Do I trust his goodness, his heart toward me?] Mary did not have many answers about what lay ahead, because it was sure to be fraught with difficulties. . . yet she believed. It reminds me of what Jesus said, Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.
Soon after the miraculous announcement, Mary traveled to the home of her cousin Elizabeth, and stayed with her until the birth of Elizabeth's baby, John. Elizabeth affirmed Mary so powerfully, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear. . . Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!"3  Mary's heart was filled to overflowing with gratefulness, and she was moved to sing faith-filled praises to God. How right, how good it is to praise God when we experience a touch of the divine.
After spending time with Elizabeth, and experiencing the birth of her nephew, (John-the-Baptist), Mary returned home. She was going to have to tell her family that she was expecting a child, though not just any child . . . how could they possibly get it?  Surely they would not believe her!  What difficulty and shame they would face in the little town of Nazareth. 
And how about Joseph--what would he have to say about the condition of his betrothed? He could have her stoned by Jewish law. But as Matthew records in his gospel, Joseph had also been visited by an angel in a dream, [another strange appearance!] who told him not to be afraid "to take Mary as his wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."4 Joseph obeyed, and took Mary as his wife.
May I ask you-have you given up on something in your life?  What is the mountain that you just can't get over, can't get around or can't get through? What are the impossible odds you are facing? Take heart! Nothing is impossible with God. Do you believe that?  If you do, with what do you need to trust him? Though we have doubts, though there might be fears--why not give God a try...cry out to him.  Why not trust God?
Ave, Maria. We want to learn from your simple trust, and truly believe that NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD.
1 - Isaiah 7.14
2 - John 20.29
3 - Luke 1.44
4 - Matthew 1.20-21