Virtual Chapel: Without Reservation
Luke 1:26-38 26
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” 34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.” 38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
If you described faith to someone, what would you say? Many define faith as believing without seeing. The word “faith” appears in the New Testament 239 in the New International Version (NIV) Translation. Those with faith are praised by Jesus and those “of little faith” are warned to beware. Although the word faith does not appear in the scripture of the encounter between Mary and the angel Gabriel, faith is evident.
Mary, an ordinary girl, is visited by an angel who delivers the news that she will bear God’s son who will be the savior of the world. Mary is taken back at first. The scripture reads that she was “greatly troubled.” Of course she was! She was talking to an angel who told her that she was going to be pregnant with God’s son. How would she explain this to anyone, especially her fiancé? I’m sure Mary had many questions in her head, but she asked this one: “How will this be?” The angel says something vague: “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” Still skimp on details Mary answers, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” Mary appears to be fine with the lack of details and ready for whatever God has in store for her life.
The story of the Annunciation, as it is known, is only found in the Gospel according to Luke. It does not appear in Matthew, Mark or John. Is this exactly what Mary said? Was it that easy for her to accept? We don’t know. All we know is that she allowed God to use her. Even though she didn’t fully understand, she had faith. Allowing God to change her life also changed the world.
Modern Day theologian, William Sloan Coffin says, “The leap of faith is not a leap of thought, but of action.” He posits that, “faith is not believing without proof; it’s trusting without reservation, life being impossible to live fully without trust. You have to act wholeheartedly without absolute certainty.” I believe that Coffin’s definition of faith is accurately portrayed in this scripture. Mary believed the angel without proof, but more importantly Mary trusted without reservation. She allowed her life to be changed for the glory of God without any certainty of outcome.
Faith does not necessarily indicate certainty; rather, faith often pulls us into an uncertain future. In her leap of faith, Mary welcomes uncertainty. She allows God to take over, trusting without reservation. We can learn a great deal from Mary’s example. God’s message to us might not as dramatic as Mary’s, but be assured that God wants to use us for His glory. In what ways do we need to trust without reservation? When we allow God to take over, life will never be the same.
Prayer: Most Holy Spirit, reveal yourself to me. I give you my life, my all. Have your way. Guide my steps. Amen.