Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Spirit and Motherhood

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"

The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God."

"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.

--Luke 1:26-38 (NIV)

* * * * *

Sunday was quite remarkable. It was Mothers' Day and Pentecost.

Until Kenneth mentioned it in his closing prayer at last Friday's CU meeting, I did not realise Sunday was Pentecost.

So I found myself looking for a portion of Scripture to read on Sunday (or was it Saturday?) morning. Sprit, mother, spirit, mother... Mary and the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit!

Incidentally Pastor Irene also referred to that account in her sermon on Sunday. I don't suppose there are many accounts in the Bible where motherhood and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit intersect so very powerfully.

I found myself thinking of Mum who's been through so much all her life. The health problems despite which she still managed to raise my siblings and me. How God has truly been merciful and gracious to her.

The angel Gabriel told Mary that the Holy Spirit would make the birth of Jesus Christ possible; I believe that promise stretches to every baby conceived. I do not know--and I never will--what it's like to be a mother. To think of all a mother goes through to bring forth a new life into the world, I'd be pretty freaked out if I found out I was going to be pregnant.

And yet nothing is imposssible with God, the angel says.

I think that's what Pentecost is about; Christians all over the world and through the centuries have debated the meaning and circumstances surrounding the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Doctrinally, this has brought about two very strong denominations in today's Christian world; the Pentecostals and Charismatics.

But at the heart of it I believe Pentecost is about how the Spirit of God makes possible the life of God in ordinary human beings. It is perhaps what Paul meant when he wrote, "Therefore we have this treasure in jars of clay, that none may ocnfuse our 'power' for God's." [paraphrase mine]

Pentecost and Mothers' Day. It is a good time to remember the promise given to the arguably the most famous mother of all. Because of the work of the Holy Spirit, Christ came into our world as a human being. Because of the work of the Holy Spirit, Christ's work may yet be done through our weak bodies.

"On earth as it is in heaven."


Thank you, Lord, for Mum. Thank you so very much.

* * * * *

(Photograph taken at The Apartment, Suria KLCC. Mothers' Day dinner.)

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