This is the second in a series of poems to prepare our hearts for Christmas.
The fist one on Zechariah can be found here.
Nazareth was the kind of town you might pass through and not see –
A small dot on the map, in the middle of Galilee.
It was the home of King David’s distant grandson, Joseph, who recently
Had been betrothed to a respected young girl named Mary.
To this young maid the angel Gabriel appeared out of the blue,
Announcing, “Greetings, favored one, the Lord is with you.”
The morning sun faded at his shinning form and Mary found
That she was lying prostrate on the dew-covered ground.
Seconds seemed like hours as she bowed beneath a sycamore tree,
Troubled and wondering what sort of greeting this might be.
Gabriel broke into her thoughts, “Mary, don’t be afraid
For you have found favor with God, so don’t be dismayed.
Behold, you are going to conceive in your womb and bear a son.
You will call the child Jesus, because he is the promised one –
The Son of the Most High, the mighty Savior who will take
The throne of his father David, for God will soon make
His reign over Jacob’s house to grow and extend
So that of his kingdom and rule there will be no end.”
Mary lifted her face, wiping a wet blade of grass
from her forehead. Sitting on her knees, she quietly asked,
Not with doubt but with child-like curiosity,
“I’m a virgin, Gabriel – how can this be?”
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,” Gabriel replied,
“And over you the power of the Most High will abide,
So that your child will be unlike any other – holy from birth,
The Son of the Almighty – God himself on his earth.
And you are not alone in this miraculous pregnancy –
Go to your relative Elizabeth and you will see
That she too is carrying a child. You both will display
That nothing is impossible when God has his way.”
Mary smiled at that thought, despite all the disgrace
That she realized she and Joseph would face.
“I am the servant of the Lord,” she cried, “Let it be
According to this word that you’ve brought to me.”
At that the angel left, and Mary rose to run
To pack her bags and go learn of Elizabeth’s son.
In the hill country of Judah, she came to Zechariah’s place,
Where she was joyfully welcomed by Elizabeth’s embrace.
Mary greeted her cousin, and at the sound of her voice,
Elizabeth’s unborn baby leaped and rejoiced.
Then, filled with God’s Spirit, Elizabeth’s voice filled the room,
“Blessed are you, Mary, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!
Who am I that you, the mother of my Lord,
Should feign to come and walk through my door?
For when the sound of your greeting rang in my ear,
My child leaped with joy. Blessed are you, my dear,
For when you heard the message, you simply believed.
Like a child offered a gift, his word you gladly received.”
At the blessing of Elizabeth, Mary too was filled with a song,
One she had rehearsed her whole journey long:
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and in him does my spirit rejoice,
My God and my savior, has stooped and made the choice
To look on my humble estate and lift me on high
So that generations to come will tell of how I
Am blessed, for God has done great things for me.
Holy is his name, the Mighty One who offers mercy
To every generation that will reverently fear.
He reveals strength in his arm, bringing the humble poor near
And scattering all those who are filled with false pride.
He pulls the mighty from their thrones, placing the meek at his side.
He fills all the hungry, stuffing their bare cupboards with plenty,
While the rich scrounge for food and go away empty.
He has not forgotten the mercy he promised to our nation,
The blessing sworn to Abraham of everlasting salvation.”
What joy filled that house as Mary and Elizabeth shared
All the wonder and fear, each laying her heart bear,
Together holding onto the clarity of God’s hand,
Wondering at their privileged place in his plan.
Two women, so different in station of life and in age,
But joined for this grand act on history’s stage.
For three months Mary stayed before heading home
Her faith strengthened to face all that would soon come.
May this second candle burn out the prideful doubts that we hold,
The skepticism that has come as we have grown old,
And may the flame of childlike faith warm our cold souls,
Restoring the wonder the passing of time secretly stole.
Let us be humble like Mary, thrilled at God’s plan
To use the weak and poor, showing he can
Do the impossible for those who simply trust,
For if we want to find joy, then we also must
Make ourselves humble servants of the true King,
Trusting his great wisdom in everything,
Even if our minds struggle to fully comprehend
All of God’s ways, his means, and his ends.
His heart is for our good – he is seeking our happiness,
And he sent us his Son to fill all our emptiness.