In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Luke 1: 26-28
Waiting is not an easy thing. We all wait for something. We wait for the water to boil, for the school bus to arrive, for the kids to come back home after school, for the phone to ring, for news about test results or job interviews to come in, for inspiration to enlighten us, for health to be restored, for things to work out, for due dates to be up…there is always something to wait for…waiting is just part of living. Sometimes, however, while we are waiting for something, something else comes up that takes precedence, but that also involves waiting some more. It’s no wonder the popular saying goes: “life happens while you wait.”
Something like that happened to Mary, the mother of Jesus. She was pledged to be married to Joseph. They were more than just engaged. It was kind of a contract. They were almost married in every sense, except physically. They did not live together or were allowed to have physical intimacy, but they were a legal marriage in waiting. While they waited, what typically happened was that the bride would prepare herself to be a wife and the groom would build the house they would share after the wedding.
Therefore, as pointed out, this was a period of waiting for Mary. If she was like any other young bride, she was probably distracted with the preparations, whatever they might have involved back then. When, all of the sudden…out of the blue…literally…this entity shows up and turns her world upside down.
The magnitude of the event was such that it merited God to send the Angel Gabriel, whose name means something like, “God is my Strength” to announce it. The strength of God surely was needed to bare this news! Especially for a young woman…I mean, really…if I know anything about being a young girl, Mary must have been royally confused when this celestial being appeared to her. I imagine her like: “Do I know you? I don’t understand! Can I get back to my Bride’s Magazine?” JUST KIDDING!!!
Anyway, I imagine Mary must have been just dumbfounded. As the passage reveals, she “was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.” (Luke 1: 29)
I remember a time in my own life when I was waiting for something big to happen when something bigger came up. I had just begun my first round of fertility treatments, when I got a phone call from my brother - whom back then I used to lovingly refer to as the “angel of death, bearer of dark news,” (NOT kidding…). He called me from Panama to tell me that our Mom did not seem to have long left to live, and that I should come home to be with her.
I was greatly troubled, to borrow Luke’s wording. I had to make a decision. Whatever I decided was going to be painful, but there was actually only one thing I could do. I dropped the fertility treatments and I went to Panama to be with my Mom during her final few weeks here on earth…to wait with her for her departure. It was only about three weeks, but those were the longest, harshest three weeks I could remember back then. It was a painfully short-long wait that drained the life out of my heart.
I was devastated and I wanted to hide. I wanted to hide from the world. I wanted to find a place where I would be able to find joy again…a place with no more sadness.
Mary’s troubles had just only begun. The announcement the Angel brought to her transformed her plans and altered her life forever, but not just hers...that Celestial encounter meant that humanity itself would never be the same.
Tomorrow, let’s see how Mary dealt with the news, what she did and how she incorporated the added wait into her transformed life. For now, let us just consider our own lives and examine the moments that have brought us to where we are today…the moments when while we waited, something else happened that caused us to wait some more, for something else…moments of decision, moments of transformation, crossroads…and how we dealt with those.