“Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.” (Luke 1.29)
Christmas cards. They come in all shapes and sizes. They can be serious, religiously serious. They can be funny. They can be sentimental – scenes of houses with snow on the roofs in Victorian England. Some of them can even sing.
Then there are the greetings inside. Some just have the names of the senders. Some add a bit of personal information. Some even have the annual letter. Some relate sad news. News of illness or bereavement. Some are just factual. And some are funny.
One couple who faithfully send us a Christmas card ever year, include a rather humorous letter recounting the year’s events. One year the husband had become a trustee in a charity, part of which included a charity shop. He made the comment that now the elders could find an outlet to help kit them out for 70’s theme parties – and added that given the way the elders dressed, you wouldn’t know whether they were going to a 70’s theme party or not! Boom! Boom!
You just never know what kind of greeting this might be when you open a Christmas card.
Mary wasn’t exactly sure where the angel Gabriel was going with his enthusiastic greeting. Possibly a sharp intake of breath on Mary’s part – after all this was Gabriel speaking to her!
Sometimes God speaks to us or He goes to work in our lives and we really don’t know where He is going. And because we don’t know where He is going, we can feel unsure about where we are going.
It’s not wrong to feel like that. Sometimes God’s will seems more like feeling our way. Paul experienced that in Acts 16 when the Spirit stopped him and his team going into Asia (v.7). No immediate explanation, but eventually they realised that God was working to a different and better strategy (vv.8-10).
The puzzlement and even apprehension that you might feel about what God is doing in your life is all part of the way we process things. It was the way that Mary processed the angel’s greeting. And it led her into a deeper understanding of God’s purpose for her life and for the whole world.