Summary: Mary, the mother of Jesus had fears and doubts. Looks at the humanity of Mary and how God overcame it, for nothing is impossible with God.
Alexander the Great, couldn’t sleep one night, and he left his tent to walk around the campgrounds. As he was walking he came across a soldier asleep on guard duty. The soldier began to wake up as Alexander the Great approached him. Recognizing who was standing in front of him, the young man feared for his life.
"Do you know what the penalty is for falling asleep on guard duty?"
Alexander the Great asked the soldier. "Yes, sir," "Soldier, what’s your name?" demanded Alexander the Great. "Alexander, sir." Alexander the Great repeated the question: "What is your name?" "My name is Alexander, sir," the soldier repeated. A third time and more loudly Alexander the Great asked, "What is your name?" A third time the soldier meekly said, "My name is Alexander, sir." Alexander the Great then looked the young soldier straight in the eye. "Soldier, either change your name or change your conduct."
A name can be a powerful thing, in a way, it can define terms of intimacy,when I was in Seminary, professors generally would call students by their last name -Mr. this, Mrs. that -East Coast formality.
But they would always call me by my first name – Peter. I figure it was because my last name was hard to pronounce. (spelled, Loughman – pronounced, lockman) So, I started calling my professors by their first name too. Instead of Dr. Willis, David, instead of Dr. Osmer, Rick. To my surprise, though most professors would not let students call them by their first name they accepted me calling them by their first name,
Names are powerful, if you had a very bad experience with someone named Scott. Perhaps a kid that bullied you or a nasty coworker. If you had a very bad experience with someone named Scott, chances are, you wouldn’t name your first born son – Scott.
On the other hand, names can bring good memories too. In 2005 the top ten most popular names for girls were; Emily, Emma, Madison, Olivia, Isabella, Hannah, Samantha, Ava, and Ashley. Do you know the girls name that has been in the top 100 the longest? Mary.
I wonder why?
In our first Scripture, which was read during our Advent Candle lighting, the Angel Gabriel appears before Mary and says, in verse 10,
“Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.This is a very familiar passage, we hear it every year, but what does the angel really mean when he says don’t be afraid? I have always taken it to mean:
Mary don’t be afraid at this very moment; Mary don’t be afraid now, while I am giving you this message; Mary don’t be afraid for I as an Angel of the Lord won’t hurt you. I think the angel Gabriel does mean, don’t be afraid at this very moment and I think the angel Gabriel also means Mary, don’t be afraid later- When you face the possibility of divorce; When you face the shame you will bring on your family; When you face your friends and neighbors as they reject you; When you see your son make the Authorities raging mad; When you see your oldest son die a horrible death, right before your eyes.
You know, before the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, she was heading in a different direction altogether. She was in the middle creating her life. She was hoping her dreams would come true. She was making wedding plans with her fiancé Joseph. Pretty much busy trying to plan her life thinking that she was like everyone else. And then, everything changed, didn’t it?
Have you had that happen in your life? Its an ordinary day, and you’re hit with startling news. Life is completely different. We’re moving again
Or, that thing you have been hoping for, for so long, it is going to happen.
It doesn’t have to be bad news for fear to take a hold of us. Good news, sometimes can be almost as frightening.
So, is Mary frightened? Of course. Why else would the angel say be not afraid, if she wasn’t already afraid. A 15 year girl is visited by an angelic being, who tells her life as you thought is was, is now gone – forever. Everything she hoped for is up in the air. You bet she’s afraid.
Fear does terrible things to us and when fear takes a hold of you, even when you are highly favored by God it is hard to contain….We can look at this passage and say, "Well, that’s Mary, the mother of Jesus – she knew God would be with her!" No. Mary didn’t know that God would be with her. Mary had no idea of the magnitude of what was going to happen in her life. It is estimated that she is a 15 year old kid, what did Mary know.