The young woman who came to see me one December was
in her early twenties and obviously pregnant. As she spilled
out her story, tears welled in her eyes. She had fallen in love, she
said. The young man had spoken of commitment, but when he
discovered they had conceived a child, he fled, leaving her alone.
Some combination of instinct and “in-your-face” resolve led her
to decide to keep the child.

Now, with about a month to go before delivery, she had
fallen into a great depression. She had lost hope. Her job was
precarious, and anyway, wasn’t our culture hostile to children?
Wasn’t it an impossible task for a single woman of little means
to raise an emotionally healthy child?

Because of the time of year, it came to me to remember the
story of another young, single, pregnant woman who conceived
an infant in dangerous days. And though difficult, wasn’t the
gift of life the harbinger of hope?

Did this young woman seated before me remember the
story? I asked if I could share it with her. She nodded her
approval, and I read Luke’s account of Gabriel’s dialogue with
Mary. She stopped me when Gabriel said, “Do not be afraid,
Mary,” and we considered how frequently fear came stomping
through our lives as the great enemy, the great interrupter.

We acknowledged that she had chosen to follow a potentially
difficult path in the pattern of many women for millennia.
Decisions and hard choices lay ahead. After forthrightly naming
our fears, we prayed for strength, courage, love, and grace.

The young woman endured, then thrived, as did her child;
and twenty-five years later I had the privilege of baptizing her
grandchild.

Holy God, help me to name my fears with courage. Give me strength, love, and grace in the name of the child of Bethlehem who came that I might have and share abundant life. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Luke 1:26-38

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Lectionary Week
December 18–24, 2017
Scripture Overview

Second Samuel 7 extols Yahweh’s choice of the family of David as the extraordinary vehicle for divine salvation. God now plans to do a new and unparalleled thing in the life of humankind. Mary’s song of wonder from Luke 1 serves as the psalm selection. It centers on her realization that human life will now never be the same. In the epistle reading, Paul rejoices that by the power of God the times are what they are. In the Gospel text, Gabriel announces to Mary that she will bear the “Son of God.” Overwhelmed by both the holiness and the enormity of the moment, Mary nonetheless consents to the will of God as brought by God’s messenger.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16. Respond to the author’s question, “How shall we interpret good fortune or bad from the perspective of God’s good care for us?”
• Read Luke 1:47-55. How do you learn to embrace the mystery of holy time in the commonplace events of your day?
• Read Romans 16:25-27. How has God’s love shown through Jesus Christ proved to be an antidote to your fears?
• Read Luke 1:26-38. Where do you see the “lowly lifted up and the hungry filled with good things”? How can you participate in that gracious work of God? What fears can you name before God?

Respond by posting a prayer.