“The angel went to a virgin promised in marriage to a descendant of David named Joseph.
The virgin’s name was Mary.
When the angel entered her home, he greeted her and said,
“You are favored by the Lord! The Lord is with you.”
She was startled by what the angel said and tried to figure out what this greeting meant.
The angel told her,
“Don’t be afraid, Mary. You have found favor with God.’” Luke 1:27-30 GW
First, a little Middle-East context:
- It is the most common place for women and girls to be: In the house. For a woman or young girl to be outside doing anythingalone is questionable…even dangerous. It gives a sense of being unprotected, vulnerable, or even morally questionable.
- Visitors and guests to a home are honored, and show honor. When a guest comes to the home, they make their presence known by announcing “Peace”….(Shalom! Salaam!) It puts the person inside the house at ease. (no doorbells or intercoms!)
- The greeting from the angel was different from any other throughout the history of the world. Within middle-eastern greetings, there are traditionally polite inquiries as to how family members are before getting down to the point of the visit. That point may be further delayed by greetings from other family members or friends in the home.
- This greeting appears to come quite quickly in the conversation. He did not ask first to speak with her father or mother. This Messenger had information to share that needed to be said directly, without delay. “You are favored by the Lord!” “The Lord is with you.” How kind the angel was to assure this young, unsuspecting girl that God was the One who was sending the message, and that it was ALL GOOD.
- This Stranger called her by name. He knew her name. Knowing a person’s name, and calling them by name breaks through many unspoken barriers. Knowing someone’s name is a big step toward singling out someone from the crowd. My name identifies me as a unique individual. It is the “title” of my identity.
- “Mary” . . . was the Messenger’s way of making her realize that this conversation was very specific, unique, and within the context of a very personal one-on-one connection. She wasn’t just a random young girl. He wasn’t just talking to the first available female in the house. She had been pinpointed. He, speaking for God, knew her by name.
God’s Messenger, carrying out to the detail what God had given him to communicate, includes such gentleness and sensitivity toward Mary:
- He came to her….within her context…within her daily life; her most comfortable setting;
- He respected her culture. I’m sure this isn’t the “normal” culture of Heaven;
- He was sensitive to her mental and emotional reactions…especially fear;
- He calms and reassures her first, so that she could even hearthe words He was sent to tell her.
This is how God, through His Holy Spirit, approaches us. He “knocks at the door of our heart.” He waits for us to open the door and invite Him in. He does not barge in uninvited. He calls us by name. His Spirit – the Comforter – comes to us and oh so patiently begins to show us the Plans He has for my life, and unfolds more of the picture as we slip our hand into His and begin to walk the Path upon which He leads us. One step at a time. (to be continued)