Summary: Advent 3 Mary
So how was your day?
Some days I pick up Jason and Keylee at school. Once they are in the car, I usually ask. How was your day? I get grunts and groans. Some time a word like boring and occasionally ok. I don’t recall more than a couple of occasions when there was any excitement in their reply.
It is really easy to take our days for granted. It is easy to take the regular every day patters for granted. But what happens when we have a really good day? Do we actually feel upbeat and happy? Do we sing with the radio, whistle or hum tunes that are stuck in our heads.
Are any of you affected by the Christmas songs that are playing on the radio now. Even the TV commercials have little holiday music in the background.
Does the exposure to Christmas music influence your mood?
Today we are going to talk about a song; some call it the Magnificat other say Mary’s song.
In the scripture before our reading this morning we have this fantastic event. An Angel, Gabriel appears to this young Jewish girl. We don’t know what she is doing. It seems that she is alone primarily because she has no one to support her story.
She is betrothed, or to use a more modern word, engaged. That means that the families got together and agreed that there would be a wedding. A marriage contract was prepared it defined a bride price and terms and compensation if a divorce was required by choice or for cause.
In the Hebrew culture, neither the bride or groom were forced to marry. The prospective groom offered the prospective bride something of value and placed it in or in the case of a ring on her right hand. The smallest value acceptable was of the smallest coin of the day. So for us , the gift could be a penny. The groom says, Be thou betrothed unto me with this ring [or object] in accordance with the laws of Moses and Israel." If the bride accepts, she will move the ring or coin to the left hand and close it. The couple is legally married in all things except living together.
There was a waiting period of a minimum of one year. You might think that it was sort of like buying a hand gun. Except, you could not cool off and just change your mind. Once betrothed, you were legally married. To call it off meant death or divorce and the betrothal contract documents the penalties.
Once the gift was received, you were husband and wife, except that the bride stayed with her folks for the waiting period. If this were a second marriage the waiting period was only 7 days.
It really sounds like people were patient back then.
So this young Jewish girl probably between 13 and 16 is most likely having just an average day. Getting water, pealing potatoes, milking the goats, washing clothes….just a normal chore filled day. Gabriel speaks to her and says things like highly favored and it all sounds pretty good.
God knows who you are…..and that has an uncomfortable good feeling. The waiting for the other shoe to drop kind of feeling…perhaps waiting for the EXCEPT kind of word to creep in and change the tone. He tells her she will have child that is special and what his name should be. She asked how and he gives a vague explanation……
If you asked her, How was your day?
How would you expect her to respond?
How might any of us respond to the news of having a baby outside of marriage?
That is a scary thought even today and I suspect that it was much worse back then.
A quick translation to this conversation, Mary says Ok.
Yes, Ok, What was she thinking? She could be stoned…and I ma not talking about drugs…I am taking about real rocks. Real pain. Real death.
I am talking about people talking behind your back, sometimes just loud enough to know what they think about your – Situation and the “story.” I am talking about an event that would destroy every plan you made in your short life and removing any hope of a predictable future.
She goes to her Cousin Elisabeth’s home in the hill country of Judah. Looking at a map it could be a pretty good distance away where she will stay for about 3 months.
A young woman asked for an appointment with her pastor to talk with him about a besetting sin about which she was worried. When she saw him, she said, "Pastor, I have become aware of a sin in my life which I cannot control. Every time I am at church I begin to look around at the other women, and I realize that I am the prettiest one in the whole congregation. None of the others can compare with my beauty. What can I do about this sin?"