More Advent Ponders
Not an unusual thing to be doing at this time of the year, but I’ve been pondering again on the Angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary. Trembling with fear and apprehension, she heard his words ‘Greetings, you who are highly favoured!……. Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God.’ (Luke 1:28 and 30) I think I would have wished to be slightly less favoured! This word favour is translated from the Greek word ‘charis’, and is the same word for the grace and favour that is upon Jesus, as he grew through childhood, that we read of in Luke 2:52
‘And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.’
And then it gets even more scary for Mary – I’ve often wondered how she felt when she heard ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you’. This word overshadow is translated from the Greek word ‘episkiazo’ (Definition: to fall upon, to throw a shadow upon, to envelop in a shadow, to overshadow.) and is the same word as when, during what we call the Transfiguration, ‘a cloud appeared and covered them’ or as J.B.Phillips translates it ‘a cloud overshadowed them and awe swept over them as it enveloped them.’
Our own experience of the Holy Spirit, whether we have been too fearful to allow Him full control; or awed in a way that has us flat on our face; whether of goosebumps, a sensation of heat, a cool breeze on our skin, other unusual effects in our body, or tingly wobbly legs that just cannot hold us upright, these will probably affect our thoughts as we put ourselves in Mary’s shoes at the announcement of this amazing Consummation-to-b; this mind-boggling Conception never experienced before, and never to be repeated; this overshadowing of her womb. “I belong to the Lord, body and soul,” replied Mary, “let it happen as you say.” Oh that our response to Him would be such!
Luke uses the word ‘episkiazo’ again in Acts 5:15-16 ‘Many signs and wonders were now happening among the people through the apostles’ ministry. In consequence people would bring out their sick into the streets and lay them down on stretchers or beds, so that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall upon some of them.’ Wow! Maybe we could all do with a bit more of this overshadowing, however scary it might be!