December 3rd – Advent Day Eight.

LUKE’S CHRISTMAS GOSPEL OF JESUS: A 30-Day Christmas-Time Devotional.

Thoroughly Shaken.

Luke 1: 29 (MsgB)

[29] She (Mary) was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that.

So often, we 21st century readers of the Bible fail to remember that the people involved in the Christmas story (i.e. Mary, Joseph, and others) didn’t have the luxury of knowing “the rest of the story” as these strange occurrences were happening in and around their lives.

While you and I reflect on the warm glow of an angelic visitation, to this young innocent virgin, Mary, the whole incident must have been quite traumatic! Imagine, for example, a typical thirteen-year-old girl, living a pretty common every-day life in Nazareth, suddenly being confronted by a supernatural being, (an alien, in our language) saying that he/she or it is from God.

‘Thoroughly shaken’ might be an understatement if this kind of experience befell me! I’m guessing that most of us would be ‘thoroughly shaken’ as well and wondering, quite suspiciously, what kind of weird thing was happening to us if suddenly an angel stood before us, greeting us in the way he/she or it did with Mary!

Oh, and put yourself in Mary’s parents position. Just imagine if your son or daughter came to you and said, with a straight face, that an angel had just visited them, giving them a very intriguing greeting! After a few laughs, assuming my kid was just pulling my leg, I’d really get a bit worried if they persisted with a story like this. Again, ‘thoroughly shaken’ just wouldn’t cut it. ‘Weird’ might be a better word many of us would use. Or how about a more skeptical response like, “Are you doing drugs, kid?”

So, when you and I just read quickly over a sentence like this one in Luke’s Christmas story, it’s because we’ve grown so accustomed and familiar with the story that the wonder of it all has left us. If we can take the time to invite the presence and power of the Holy Spirit into our reflections on this familiar story of Jesus’ advent, we just might begin to realize, once more, how unusual and downright amazing this God-story is.

We must also remember that one of the re-occurring themes of the Bible is that when God breaks-in on our everyday lives, our ‘normal’ will be interrupted by ‘paranormal.’ In truth, we have a wonder-working God who operates outside of our ‘normal’ box most of the time. Yet isn’t it interesting that most of what we call American church experiences are never found outside these ‘normal’ boxes. And when we hear a story of someone experiencing what we would define as ‘paranormal,’ we automatically place that experience in the ‘weird’ or ‘goofy’ category, dismissing both the experience and the person claiming to have that supernatural experience with God.

Too bad, isn’t it? Maybe we need to stretch the outer edges of our ‘normal’ boxes just a bit, expecting a bit more supernatural from our wonder-working God?

My prayer: Lord, thank You for the reminder that You are much bigger than my religious boxes. For Mary, being ‘thoroughly shaken’ was a good thing . . . helping her look far beyond her limited worldview of herself and her world, and gaze into the large plans You had for her life. May I be open to You and Your expansive plans, willing to be ‘thoroughly shaken’ as well for the cause of Your Kingdom. For Your name’s sake. Amen.

My questions to ponder: So, how open am I honestly to ‘paranormal’ when it comes to my relationship with God? When was the last time I was ‘thoroughly shaken’ by God and His powerful in-breaking Kingdom? What ‘boxes’ have I contained my faith in, never allowing my God to break outside those boxes?

So what is God speaking to you today? Are you practicing the Kingdom presence of God?


We hope you’ll enjoy these 30 blogs that walk you through 30 days of Advent (Nov 26 – Dec 25). Here’s the homepage for the entire series.

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