Andrew Pritchard-Keens

Isaiah 7:10-14
Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test. Then Isaiah said: ‘Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.

Luke 1:26-38
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’ Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.

Prayer: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

How confusing…

We have just celebrated Christmas and now Easter draws close. We have just celebrated the birth of Jesus and now we prepare ourselves to remember Jesus’ death on the cross and following that His resurrection.

But here between remembering Jesus’ birth and death our set readings for today call us to celebrate that the Angel Gabriel came to Mary to tell her that she would be the mother of God on earth – the Messiah.

Mary was encountering something way beyond her understanding and was about to experience even more unknown territory as the pregnancy developed and the baby was to be born…. there was indeed a lot to trouble her.

We are in somewhat of a similar place at the moment…

There is much of the future that we cannot see or envisage, and there is so much that is beyond our comprehension; so much that has the power to scare us.

So what might God’s message be to us in these troubled times?

Considering all that Mary experienced and the words that she heard from the Angel Gabriel, perhaps God’s message to each one of us might be,

“Peace…..        loved one…….     I am with you!”

And if we find even that perplexing, then next we might hear from God,

“Do not be afraid, in the midst of everything, you are special to Me! Jesus was indeed born of Mary; Jesus was and is great, the Son of the Most High, the descendent of David, the King of all kings, the lover and ruler of all of God’s people and His kingdom will have no end. Do not be afraid, I love you.”

To this we might reply,

“How can this be, since I am so unworthy?”

God’s answer then would be,

“It is by the love and power of God that you are special to Me. It is by the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus that you can have forgiveness of every sin and peace with Me.”

In answer to this you might ask,

“Can I? Can I really? In the midst of all of the world’s troubles and knowing all the wrong I have done; can I really have God’s forgiveness and peace with God?”

To such a response God would then say,

“Yes! Yes you can! For nothing is impossible with God.”

After such a conversation, perhaps then we would find that like Mary, we would be able to say,

“Here am I, the servant of the Lord; Your will be done. Thank You for Your love, forgiveness and peace. Empower me now by Your Holy Spirit to live for You, love You and love my neighbours.”

These are indeed challenging times.

This is without doubt a season that goes beyond our understanding, it is a moment in history that would try to scare us and demoralise us. But God is greater than the circumstances that we find ourselves in and He truly does love us, forgive us and care for us.

He is indisputably with all of us who turn to him and nothing is impossible for Him.

So if you would like to, why not take a few minutes now to take a deep breath, relax your body, know that God is with you and know that He is for you. Accept His love for you, His forgiveness and receive His peace.

And finally, entrust your present and your future into God’s hands and say like Mary,

“Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’

A PDF version of this text can be downloaded here:

Talk 25 March 2020