On the fourth week of Advent my true love said to me “Its a holy thing.”

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. ~ Luke 1.26-38 KJV

This is one of the final Advent posts that Kelly and Winn and I will be sharing. Don’t forget to read their thoughts about this passage. I’ve been honored to post alongside these good writers. I do hope you’ve been stirred in some way by our words. One note – we’re all posting today at different times as our schedules today are, well, different. Such is life.

*heaven and nature sing – Sometimes I’m afraid we sing that line and think, if we think at all, of some vague, amorphous nature. But if the incarnation is about anything, its about specificity – people and places, like a girl named Mary, and a place named Nazareth. As I read Luke’s verses my mind got stuck in the Nazareth, and in the words that are clear and the words that are shy.

The text says before the angel was sent
to the virgin named Mary that the angel was
sent to the town named Nazareth, a detail that
seems to hint at some old-world protocol like seeking
an authority figure’s permission before courting,
only in this particular case it was not Mary’s father
who was approached but rather Mary’s place.
And if all things are possible, as the text does say,
then I find it quite plausible the angel paced the
town telling rocks and trees the search had ended
for the one who would supernaturally conceive but
naturally carry and bring forth the Son of God
would be none other than their hometown girl.
Now the text doesn’t say this but I’ve a hunch
Nazareth asked the same question as Mary: HOW?
And once again, although its not there in black
and white, I’m willing to bet the angel gave the town
the same sufficient line the girl got: ITS A HOLY THING.
Then the very rocks of Nazareth cried out silently
and the trees stood taller and joined the chorus.
The text doesn’t come right out and say that either
but the song is there if you have ears to hear.

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  1. michelemorin on December 22, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    This is lovely, and I’m pretty sure the very rocks of Nazareth would have sung something that sounded a bit like Handel’s Messiah.

  2. Kelly Hausknecht Chripczuk on December 22, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    I love this, John. As I was looking through artwork of the annunciation, I was struck by the tradition of placing Mary indoors, often in her bedroom or a chapel, reading scripture or praying. But this year I need to believe that Gabriel found Mary barefooted, out in the garden, or tending a slow fire in an open courtyard. I need Mary’s feet to be on the ground, for the angel to arrive, not in a place set-apart, but, everywhere.

  3. Cheryl on December 22, 2014 at 10:44 pm

    John, this week I have been seeing in many places trees praising God – branches lifted, wind-shaken, holy-leafed praising. My breath caught when I read the end of your post, because I had been asking God to speak to me. O, how I love our Father’s reassuring voice!

  4. aekrause on December 23, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    I’ll be thinking about this all day, at least. Thank you!

  5. Susan Irene Fox on December 23, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    I got chills when I read this, John. Honest to goodness, goose-bumps. Because I see God in the everyday nature that he creates. In the way the wind and the bees and the leaves sing praises to him every new morning. So I truly believe the rocks and the trees beamed and stood taller and joined the chorus and welcomed the Spirit and the newborn child to come. Thank you.

  6. pastordt on December 24, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    Oh, glory here! thank you John, Kelly, and Winn for this lovely series – so refreshing and offered by three of my favorite writers. One of my best gifts this season. Truly.

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