An angel comes and gives the Good News to the virgin Mary. This is a much more common experience than we might think at first glance.
An angel is what? The one who delivers GOD’s messages. This one, without name, delivers a two-fold message. GOD will deliver the oppressed. Which is what a Messiah does. And GOD is with us. Which so many find so hard to believe – for some reason.
This connection between Mary and GOD is described in ways that would evoke Hebrew scripture – images of the presence that they would recognize.
“the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow”
(Luke 1: from the New Jerusalem Bible)
The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
the power of the Highest hover over you;
Therefore, the child you bring to birth
will be called Holy, Son of God.
(Luke 1: from the Message)
These images evoke the bright cloud of GOD that led the people out of Egypt. It evokes the shadow of the wings of GOD – a common image of the psalms – 17/57/140
God’s creative presence
Do you have a miraculous story about God’s presence?
Have you ever experienced a mysterious connection with what is un-knowable and powerful, protective and guiding?
Here’s a story I heard just yesterday about the connection between mother and son.
A quiet house in the suburbs of Peterborough.
In the middle of the night – a mother sits bolt upright in bed and screams – waking the father from a deep deep sleep (that he’s famously known for)
They rush into their 3month old sons’ room. Throw on the lights - to discover their precious newborn is blue and not breathing.
Sudden Infant Death syndrome strikes again.
But this time
For some reason
For some unknown reason
Some miraculous reason
The boy’s mother - Her intuition - is triggered.
And the boy is saved by the father’s heroic, instinctively protective nature as he drives mother and son like a bat out of hell across town to the emergency ward where doctor’s rescue and resuscitate the child.
Why this son?
Why not others?
Who knows the answer to that question?
But that story lives with the family and the son for their whole lives. Their lives changed by a miraculous connection – a message received…
Could we say that an angel – GOD’s messenger woke her?
Could we say it was instinct.
Scientists conduct a bloody experiment.
They take the newborn brood of a mother rabbit.
With heart monitors on the mother, they take her babies five miles away and drown them at a chosen time. The heart monitors record the rapid increase of the mother’s heart in panic at the precise time her babies are slaughtered.
Scientists need to prove what people of faith already know.
People of faith have either experienced this connection personally – or believe the stories they have heard about this sacred, holy, connection of the ONE who sends messages.
Do you have a story like that?
What is your connection with the miraculous?
What stories can you tell, from the Bible, from your lives, of such connections?
Here’s another short one:
This time it’s a connection from son to mother. My friend Helen’s adult son leaves her apartment. The two have been separated for decades. Their family connection torn apart by drug abuse. They have just recently re-connected and reconciled.
The son leaves the apartment and blocks away, driving home, he gets a feeling. It strikes him deep – this feeling – this nudge – and miraculously he responds and turns his car around.
He finds his mother on the floor of her apartment. A call to 911 rescues her near death from a brain aneurism. She lives to tell me the story.
GOD’s guidance and protection.
And for every story of GOD’s angels rescuing – there are other stories.
Stories of tragedy and loss.
Stories of too little, too late.
Stories without happy endings…
Dark stories of a black empty void that apparently doesn’t care.
Dark stories that evokes the terrible questions…
Are you there GOD?
Why me? Why my child?
Why didn’t you help us?
Why so much suffering?
Are YOU a cruel scientist conducting experiments to test a mother’s heart?
And into that dark pool of deep questions
Questions screamed, wailed at the night’s distant stars
There is just a quiet wordless reply.
In the face of suffering
In the midst of despair
In the bog of questions
Somewhere deep inside a candle burns
A candle flame that causes a mother in Africa’s Congo
To carry her starving child
Across miles of treacherous territory
Risking rape, death, torture
To find medical help for her child
What is that?
That is HOPE
That is the power of the MOST HIGH
That is the shadow of the wings of the PROTECTOR
That is a sacred power within the chalice of motherhood
That is the connection deep within the womb of a Mother
The Compassion – the womb love of a mother
The connection between me and my MAKER
The connection between you and your MAKER
The connection between you and your mother
Do you have that connection between you and the woman who delivered you into this world? When the waters broke and you crossed over into the promised land of this life…that connection changed…and yet…
The connection between mother and son, mother and daughter, is but a single spider’s web strand compared to the umbilical cord of faith that Jesus was born to help us see, know, experience, rely upon.
In mystery, miracle, and muddy waters of life’s dirt and despair, a new creation is conceived to bring HOPE, PEACE, JOY, LOVE to you, today, and forever more.
Thus saith the LORD.