Conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary

Reading: Conceived by the power of the holy spirit and born of the Virgin Mary (Apostle’s Creed)

Reflection: The Christian faith is grounded in the historical event in time, of the man, Jesus of Nazareth. This article of the Creed points us to the beginning of that history, a beginning that the Church celebrated only a few days ago, on March 25, at the Feast of the Annunciation. Our Orthodox brothers and sisters will celebrate this feast on 7 April, so if you missed it you get a second chance! In the Evangelical (or Pentecostal / Charismatic) tribes of the Christian family, we often don’t go in for feasts and holy days, we may think of them as a bit too “religious”(!) I think, though, there is real value in using these times, which highlight significant moments in the history of God’s dealings with humankind, to focus our thoughts on what He was doing then and what he is doing, and saying to us, now.

In the story, told to us by Doctor Luke (Luke 1,26-39) we see a young girl from a poor background, in a nowhere kind of town receiving a bombshell piece of news from a very strange, and rather scary, messenger. The Angel gave her a message that we can read now, in the light of the great ecumenical councils of Nicea and Chalcedon, and understand something of the Trinitarian reality of what was going to happen through her, but she could not possibly have understood this. What she would have heard was something to do with the messianic hope that Israel had had for centuries and that, somehow, she was going to be caught up in it in a way that was going to make her life incredibly difficult, if viable at all.

Her courage in submitting to the will of God cannot be as easy as the brief Gospel account can sometimes be read, but it was, nevertheless, an incredible act of courage and self-emptying; “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”  We see the same characteristic displayed in the life of her son Jesus, throughout his life but, supremely, in the Garden just before his execution at Golgotha, when he prayed; “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

Jesus of Nazareth had been well formed, from an early age. He had learned the way of self-emptying – Kenosis – from a Mother who, in choosing to submit to the will of God and participate in His redemptive plans for the World, emptied herself of herself, and became the Theotokos – the Mother of the God Man.

So, I return to the Creed, and to the story of the Annunciation, and ask; what is Father saying to me or to us, perhaps? My sense is an invitation, not to admire, or even celebrate the actions of this brave young first-century Jewish girl from a safe distance, but to imitate her. To imitate her in her self-emptying and self-giving attitude and, especially now, at a time when so much is uncertain and when so many feel close to succumbing to fear, to posture ourselves within our Father’s shadow ( Luke 1,35 and Ps 91,1) and to say with her; “….let it be to me according to your word.”

Prayer: Father God, in fear and trembling we place ourselves within your sheltering and ask you to overshadow us. We put ourselves, once again, into your hands and, as your humble servants, who you have called into friendship through your son, Jesus Christ, we pray, let it be to us, according to your word. Amen.

The Apostles’ Creed:
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; He descended into hell; on the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from there He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

Posted in Daily devotionals, Nekategorizirano.