Hope: Our Gift, Our Calling, Our Life Itself

This post is the 15th and final post for the series A January of Unwrapping Hope. I will be taking a 10-day break from all social media, including my blog, from Monday to spend more time alone with God. 

Today, I was reminded by a fellow #OneWordCoffee blogger, of a sermon I heard a year ago, focused on Mary’s response to God and all the events that unfolded in the conception and birth of Jesus. And it’s made me realize that the story of Mary and her baby Jesus gives us a wonderful illustration of Hope and how it can impact our lives, mirroring much of what I’ve unwrapped in this series.

Mary’s story begins with an angel, Gabriel, a messenger from God, who proclaims the Good News, Our Hope, to Mary:

Luke 1: 26 – 38 (The Message)

26-28 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary. Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her:

Good morning!
You’re beautiful with God’s beauty,
Beautiful inside and out!
God be with you.

29-33 She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that. But the angel assured her, “Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.

He will be great,
    be called ‘Son of the Highest.’
The Lord God will give him
    the throne of his father David;
He will rule Jacob’s house forever—
    no end, ever, to his kingdom.”

34 Mary said to the angel, “But how? I’ve never slept with a man.”

35 The angel answered,

The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
    the power of the Highest hover over you;
Therefore, the child you bring to birth
    will be called Holy, Son of God.

36-38 “And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren, and here she is six months pregnant! Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.”

And Mary said,

Yes, I see it all now:
    I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve.
Let it be with me
    just as you say.

Then the angel left her.

Like Ruth, David and Abraham, Mary responds to the Word of God, by accepting it with open palms: “Let it be with me just as you say.” In accepting God in belief, Hope enters her womb and with it the Spirit of God: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Highest hover over you.” The Living Hope births joy, dancing and singing in and through her, causing her cousin Elizabeth and her unborn child, John, to be filled with the Holy Spirit also and Elizabeth with a song of exuberance (Luke 1: 39 – 56). Hope, is thus gifted by God and grown into a powerful joy in and through the power of God’s Spirit that pours itself out upon those around us, just as Naomi’s did into the life of Ruth.

As The Living Hope grows in Mary’s womb, Mary walks a path of social ridicule (as an unwed mother), unacceptable in the eyes of society, but chosen in the Eyes of God. God blesses her with a loving husband, strengthening her to walk her path upheld and supported in love, just as God blessed Naomi with Ruth and Ruth with Boaz. Hope, thus, calls us to a life of persecution, but not bereft of joy or loving care, as evidenced by the life of David.

Mary’s path, though, is also filled with physical weariness, as her body both suffers and enlarges in the waiting, as the Living Hope abides in and embraces her. In Hope’s embrace, however, Mary is carried forward on her path of suffering, traveling nine months pregnant to a place far from home, a place predestined by God, much like Abraham. Exhausted, bereft of home and community, she is left to the stillness and obscurity of a stall to respond to Hope’s Calling to release what has been growing within her. Groaning from the pain, but supported by the love God gifts her through her husband, she labours, giving every ounce of strength within her to release the Living Hope into the world.

Light pours into the darkness.

Just like, Mary, we are gifted a Living Hope in our decision to believe, to carry, embrace and move forward into. This Hope will both enlarge us in joyful anticipation, as it grows within us in its abiding and embraces more and more of us, but it will also slowly break us more and more open in suffering, persecution and labour in the abiding. However, the more we are broken open, the closer we move toward birthing the true us, for: “When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up too – the real you, the glorious you.” (Colossians 3: 4, The Message). The pain, suffering, persecution, obscurity…will all give way to God’s Glorious Kingdom and a Hope Unfathomable for human minds will be fulfilled.

This is a Hope that should, like Mary, cause us to set aside moments to “treasure[d] up all these things and ponder[ed] them in [our] heart” (Luke 2: 19, NIV) , to let Hope earth itself more deeply within us. I have decided to heed this calling and will be taking a ten-day break from all social media from Monday.

I look forward to sharing what God plants within me, when I return. In the meantime, you’ll see me return here tomorrow (Friday) to publish part of a blog post that will be fully released as a guest post on incourage.me, before I retreat on the Monday. Will you join me in praying for the Spirit of God to anoint my clay-pot words there to incline hungry and thirsty hearts toward Our One and Only Hope, so that He might embrace them, as they lean into His safe and warm arms?

God bless and keep you in the coming two weeks. I’ll leave you with a beautiful worship song that speaks of Our Glorious Hope gifted and grown in Love:

I Hear the Words of Love

I hear the words of love,
I gaze upon the blood,
I see the mighty sacrifice,
And I have peace with God.

‘Tis everlasting peace!
Sure as Jehovah’s Name;
‘Tis stable as His steadfast throne,
Forevermore the same.

The clouds may come and go
And storms may sweep my sky;
This blood-sealed friendship changes not;
The cross is ever nigh.

My love is oft-times low,
My joy still ebbs and flows;
But peace with Him remains the same;
No change Jehovah knows.

I change, He changes not,
The Christ can never die;
His love, not mine, the resting place,
His truth, not mine, the tie.

Words by Horatius Bonar (1861), music by Henry Gauntlett (1858)

Are you joining me here for the first time? If you’re curious, you can find a summary with links to my first posts for A January of Unwrapping Hope here:

10 Gifts of Hope Unwrapped

And the others can be found here:

Ruth’s Journey into Hope

David: A Broken Heart Tethered to Hope

Abraham: Embraced into Hope