Grace and favour: Day two
Please enjoy today's reflection from our September-December issue of New Daylight.
Grace and favour
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.’
Luke 1:26-33 (NRSV)
A grace and favour is a residential property owned by a monarch and leased, often rent-free, to an employee or as thanks for services rendered. Here, however, is the first inkling that the coming Messiah will turn things upside down, for it is the King of kings who seeks the favour of a lodging – in an obscure village in a denigrated part of the country, in a respectable but not highly educated builder’s home. Nazareth might have had a couple of hundred residents; Galilee was cosmopolitan rather than ‘properly’ Jewish; and Joseph was a general builder whose ancestors enjoyed a significant if mixed reputation. No wonder Mary was ‘perplexed’ – surely an understatement when confronted with an angel, who then defines the favour of God in a startling and seemingly impossible way.
Our picture of angels will probably owe much to artists’ representations, but the New Testament offers little except the occasional reference to ‘shining’. They are not always recognised immediately, though they are spoken of in a matter-of-fact way as though their presence, if infrequent, is not unusual. Might we, too, have entertained one without realising it?
Gracious God, your ways are higher than ours, and may often surprise, even perplex us. May we have the grace to discern your presence in our lives, in whatever form you choose to take.
Written by SHEILA WALKER
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