I am thinking and studying about Mary. When I slowed down my reading of Luke’s account, I found some very surprising things…Things I really had passed over before without thinking.  Here is what I found:

Sermon Study: Mary before Christ's birth1.  Mary’s response to Gabriel was twofold.  When she said, “How can this be for I am virgin?” and “Let it be to me according to your Word,” she was saying something very powerful for us to see and model in our own lives.  In essence she said, “What do you want for me?” and “What do you want from me?”  The perfect blend/balance of trust (for me) and obedience (from me).

2.  Mary ran (hurried) to Elizabeth’s house which was about 80 miles away from Nazareth.  She left quickly…and she was only days pregnant.  When she met Elizabeth at her home, Mary was (at that time) the only one who knew of her special pregnancy.  (Okay, maybe she told Joseph…but he didn’t go with her to Elizabeth’s house and he certainly would not have been bragging about it!)  Mary was the only one who knew…and when she approached Elizabeth, the spirit of the Child within Mary (only a zygote at that time) ’spoke’ or ’send’ something that reacted to the fetus (John) inside Elizabeth.  This is an amazing truth that is hidden in the text.  The Bible once again affirms life at the earliest ‘zygote’ stage.  Jesus was forming in her womb…only days old…and was able, by the Spirit, to communicate who He was to John, a mere fetus.

If you are a Christian believer, this text should end the abortion debate.  I write that knowing that many Christian women have had abortions…and Christian men have been silent but willing advocates of it.  The ones I have spoken to (many) have all indicated that they were young and afraid for their future, didn’t want to get married, and didn’t know how to care for a child.  I am sympathetic to this.  I truly am.  And as sure as life begin at conception, God’s grace and forgiveness begins when we turn to him with our mistakes and misdeeds.  Of course the men bear the responsibility for this equally.  And the grace and forgiveness of God is extended to all who truly turn to Him with repentance.

But it is an unmistakable conclusion (in the bible) that life begins at conception…because the human life of the divine Son of God began at conception.

3.   Elizabeth shrieks for joy.  She says “Blessed are you among women and blessed in the fruit of your womb.”  And she knows that Mary is carrying the Son of God.  She says, “Why is it granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”  She knew it was the fulfillment of the Old Testament hope for the Messiah.  She knew it!
And then she says, “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”  (Luke 1:45)  Ha-ha!  Zechariah, the muted husband who did not believe the angel Gabriel, is probably standing beside Elizabeth.  She says this with one eye on the Virgin (who believed) and one eye on the old muted husband (who did not).  What is that look on Elizabeth’s face?

4.  The Bible also says (and I had missed this important fact) that Mary stayed there for the next three months.  She arrived when Elizabeth was six months (Gabriel told her that), she hurried off to her relative Elizabeth…and stayed with here until the birth of John.  So Mary was loved and supported by Elizabeth…and Elizabeth likely coached and mentored Mary in the trials and pain of birth.  Mary witnessed Elizabeth go through labor and deliver…and then went home.

These are just a few unvarnished thoughts of mine as I prepare for Sunday’s sermon.

by The Rev. Canon David Roseberry

This article was originally published at AnglicansForLife.org on Nov 12, 2010