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. Luke 1: 26-38
Me and Gay
Today is believed to be the Winter Solstice. The Almanac says, “The word solstice comes from the Latin words for "sun" and "to stand still. In the Northern Hemisphere, as summer advances to winter, the points on the horizon where the Sun rises and sets advance southward each day; the high point in the Sun’s daily path across the sky, which occurs at local noon, also moves southward each day. At the winter solstice, the Sun’s path has reached its southernmost position… Winter solstice is the day with the fewest hours of sunlight during the whole year.”
The Winter Solstice was my friend, Gay’s favorite day of the year. Every year she would gather her friends together on the Winter Solstice night and light all the candles she could find. Her son had died years before and she told me many times, “parents should never outlive their children.” Her loss was deep and always present with her. The Solstice marked the shortest day of year, but more importantly, she would say, “This is the day we remember that more light is coming. Tomorrow’s light will be just a little bit more and the next day and the next. Every year this day lives out hope for me. More light is coming.”
Today’s scripture message echoes the hope of my friend. Today’s story has angels and miracles, it has words that get inside our hearts and stay there our whole lives: “The Lord is with you.” “Do not be afraid.” “Nothing is impossible with God.”
Sometimes I wonder what our lives would have been like if we were given only one page from the Bible to serve as our guide. If the only page we were given was this one, our lives would have had a very strong compass. In this one story, in just these words we would know God to send angels when messages needed to be sent; we would have heard that God speaks to women and uses us for healing in the world; we would have witnessed that it’s OK to not understand, and that when there is misunderstanding we will be reminded of the presence of the Holy Spirit; and we will have heard powerful words of faith and hope – “nothing is impossible with God.”
On this shortest day of the year, on this day when more light is coming we are reminded to have faith in the Promises of God. Angels come and bring messages that will lead us through and lead us on. More light is coming, we will see. Be not afraid.
Breath prayers: “Nothing is impossible” “with God”
On this Winter Solstice day we are more aware of time. Our days are always changing. Light is coming. Holy One, you have created and are creating still. May we pay attention and not miss the messengers that come and bring us closer to you. May we listen for your words to guide us and bring us closer to you. May our lives be transformed this day and throughout our years. Amen.
believes in beginnings and beginning again, in holding on and letting go, in God's presence as close as our next breath. Lesley works as a hospice Bereavement Coordinator in Atlanta. She is an ordained minister in the UCC and has just completed her second book, "Grief and the Psalms: Companioning the Moon in 29 Days" (to be released early in 2015).