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2020 Advent Devotional – Day 15

Service

The angel Gabriel from heaven came
Basque carol, 18th century; paraphrased by Sabine Baring-Gould

Of her, Emmanuel, the Christ, was born 

Video: Gabriel’s Message


Reflection

Gabriel’s Message is an understated and gentle tribute to Mary, the mother of God. Through the soothing and modulated melody – never so slow as to be somber, but equally not giddy or excited, not rushing to joy – the piece captures perfectly the sense of thoughtful acceptance of Mary’s response to God.

The humble and subdued nature of Mary are further emphasized by the contrast made with the angel’s words of praise and honour. Together though, like the softness of snow and the blazing energy of flame, they affirm the glory of God’s abiding love.

In a similar way, Mary’s monumental service is encapsulated in the simplest of lines: “Of her, Emmanuel, the Christ, was born.” Of her. Such small words to channel such immense love, both Mary’s act of love and devotion in serving God in this way, and God’s gift of love for the world.

Of her, the life and teaching of Jesus is made possible. Of her, healing, love, and compassion are renewed in the world. Of her, the poor and insignificant are lifted up and honoured, as God’s love upends the expectations of the world of what a messiah would be.

And because of Mary perhaps, our idea of serving God can be renewed and lifted up. Mary’s service starts quite simply with who and where she is; God takes all that she is – and isn’t – and with God that will always be more than enough. For us too: no matter who we are or wherever we find ourselves, God can take our lives and use them to serve God’s gift of love. If we, like Mary, will allow the possibility of God’s greatness, what might just be born of us?


Empowering God,
Bless me with your love and call me into your service. No matter who I am and wherever I may be, let your greatness empower me to reach out to those places in need in your world. Out of me, may compassion flow, may the overlooked be lifted up, may justice be born. Inspire and strengthen me to glorify you in my life. Amen.


Reading: The angel Gabriel from heaven came

The angel Gabriel from heaven came,
With wings as drifted snow, his eyes as flame.
“All hail,” said he, “O lowly maiden Mary,
Most highly favored lady.” Gloria!

“For known a blessed Mother thou shalt be,
All generations laud and honour thee,
Thy Son shall be Emmanuel, by seers foretold.
“Most highly favored lady.” Gloria!

Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head.
“To me be as it pleases God,” she said.
“My soul shall laud and magnify God’s holy name.”
Most highly favored lady. Gloria!

Of her, Emmanuel, the Christ, was born
In Bethlehem, all on a Christmas morn.
And Christian folk throughout the world will ever say:
“Most highly favored lady.” Gloria!


If you’re enjoying the carols each day, there’s now a YouTube playlist you can listen to that contains all the carols shared so far. The playlist will grow as the devotional series progresses, with each day’s carol being added. By Christmas Day, you’ll have the perfect soundtrack of worship and praise.  Click here to listen.


Thank you for joining us on this prayerful path through Advent.
Blessings and best wishes for 2021.