Annunciation of the Lord | Luke 1:26-38
Mary wasn’t surprised by the angel, just by what the angel said. She was blessed, it said. She was going to carry a child, no man required. God, the Other, was going to enter the world as a child. Her child.
Not to be surprised by the angel itself, Mary must have carried some expectation that God could break the boundaries of her world, that angels would open the doors of her mind. And Mary responded the only way that anyone can ever really respond to God.
Sometimes the world rises, or sinks, to our expectations. Angels appear, maybe because we believe they will. We see God at work because we are watching, waiting for something to happen.
But when it happens, it’s not what we thought. The angels tell us things that make no sense.
And there you are.
“Behold I am the servant of the Lord,” Mary said. “Let it be as you say.”
That behold is sometimes translated here I am. The Greek Ἰδοὺ idou “behold” substitutes for the older Hebrew הִנְנִ hineni, a response to the calling of God: here I am. Abraham said it to God and to Isaac. Moses said it. Samuel said it. Isaiah said it.
And Mary says it. Here I am.
Strangely enough, this story is all about God saying the very same thing to Mary. Behold, here I am with you.
Mary didn’t expect her story to start as it did, just as she did not expect her son’s story to end as it did. It isn’t about God meeting our expectations. It is simply a matter of expecting God.
Here I am with you. Emmanuel.
Advent is the season of anticipation, a time of mindfully expecting the impossible, that there is a God, and a God who chooses to be with us. Among us. Within us.
We may not receive a visitation from an angel. We may never know God dwelling with us the way that God dwelled within Mary. Still, we may hope. And that hope, all by itself, is a miracle.