Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. Luke 1:29
In his book The Denial of Death, Ernest Becker says that we regularly engage in repression simply to cope with daily life. We repress both the astonishment of existing and the terrors of dying. We block them out in order to focus on the task at hand. A similar kind of repression happens at Christmastime. We hear that a virgin will "be with child ... He will be great ... called the Son of the Most High... His kingdom will never end"--but this amazing news barely registers. We do not stagger under the weight of Jesus' coming. Instead we shop till we drop. Mary models the right response. Before she says, "I am the Lord's servant," we're told she's "greatly troubled." What troubles her is the greeting, not the angel. In the Scriptures, this greeting is often addressed to people chosen by God for a special purpose in salvation history. The phrase "the Lord is with you" is spoken to assure them of divine resources and protection. But why would Mary need such assurance? What was in store for her? She was troubled. Life in the small town of Nazareth would no longer be safe or simple. The challenge for us this season is to attend to the claims made all around us about Jesus, and to wonder: What could the coming of this Holy One mean for us? Clearly this life of ours is neither safe nor simple.
Dear God, we are so easily caught up in routines that we lose sight of the immensity of our creation, redemption, and future glory. Shine on us, Lord, and awaken us. Amen.
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