Reflections on the First Sunday of Advent: Mary’s Story

Today is the first Sunday in Advent. As you know, the four Sundays in Advent before Christmas Day recount various messages from the Bible, not just the Christmas story. But I am going to depart from that tradition, because, after all, I am not a minister or priest. I would like to share some sections of the Bible that relate to the Christmas story. Perhaps it will give you something to ponder as we approach Christmas Day.

Today, let’s read the story of Mary, and how she learned that she was to have a baby.

The Gospel According to Luke 1:26-38 – The Annunciation

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 calledthe 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.

I have always liked this story. I remember first reading about it in the Little Golden book, The Christmas Story, illustrated by Eloise Wilkin. I have it; here is the illustration that shows Mary talking with the angel Gabriel.

Tonight, as the sun sets, find some place where you can be quiet. If you like, light a candle; the first candle for the first Sunday in Advent. White roses and lilies are symbolic of Mary. Perhaps, add some next to your candle, or leave some at a statue honoring Mary (there is one on Broad Street in Falls Church).

Meditate on the story of Mary and how it may relate to your life or inspire you.

  • Mary was meek but brave. Think about a time when you showed faith and courage in the face of uncertainty.
  • Has there ever been anyone who has played the role of Gabriel in your life?
  • Did you ever come to a path in your experience where the direction you were to take was abundantly clear? What was that like?
  • Does any part of this story resonate with you today?
  • How can you honor Mary in your heart?

Here is a carol for today.

Gabriel’s Message  (Basque carol, traditional)

The angel Gabriel from heaven came
His wings as drifted snow
His eyes as flame
“All hail” said he “thou lowly maiden Mary
Most highly favored lady,
Gloria, Gloria

“For known a blessed mother thou shalt be
All generations laud and honor thee
Thy Son shall be Emanuel
By seers foretold
Most highly favored maid,
Gloria, Gloria

Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head
“To me be as it pleaseth God, ” she said,
“My soul shall laud and magnify His holy name.”
Most highly favored lady,
Gloria, Gloria


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